“I don't know why, but when I was five years old and in first grade, I decided I was going to be a doctor. I even told Santa Claus, 'I'm going to be a doctor!'”
“PIONEERING NEUROSURGEON, RESEARCHER AND TEACHER”
A distinguished professor emeritus of neurosurgery at The Ohio State University who served twice as interim chair of her department-in 1988-89 for the Division of Neurosurgery and, for the newly created Department of Neurological Surgery from 2003 to 2004, Carole Miller is clinical professor and director of OSU's residency program.
As Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH-15) noted in nominating her to be a Local Legend of Medicine, Miller was "present at the 'ground floor' of tremendous neurosurgical research and practice" and "worked locally, nationally and internationally in research, clinical care and education to help bring it to its current fruition."
Neurosurgery in the 1960s was a new and perhaps difficult specialty for women to enter, let alone flourish in. But pioneering and difficulty were never a problem for Miller, as she was to demonstrate time and again over her illustrious career. "It never occurred to me I couldn't be a neurosurgeon," she recalled recently. "If there was male chauvinism, I chose to ignore it."
Graduating with honors in history from OSU in 1962, Miller subsequently earned her M.D. there four years later, and then served an internship at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was named "Best Intern." She returned to OSU to complete her residency in neurologic surgery, and was named Acting Senior Resident and Senior Resident.
Additionally, she completed a research fellowship in neurologic surgery at OSU, and then undertook a six-month fellowship in neurophysiology at Yale New Haven Hospitals, before joining the neurosurgery faculty at the University of Michigan for two years. In 1975, she returned permanently to Ohio State as an assistant professor of neurosurgery, rising to the rank of full professor.
She proved to be a strong researcher, receiving National Institutes of Health grants and becoming an expert in thoraco-lumbar spine trauma and fractures. She teamed with her late husband, William E. Hunt, M.D., longtime director of OSU's Division of Neurosurgery, to produce a groundbreaking classification of aneurysms which became the international standard.
Author of more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles in neurosurgery and related fields, Miller's innovative research was an important contribution to the direction and knowledge based of the developing field of neurosurgery.
Asked about a life in medicine, she is unequivocal: "If you are interested in science and people, there's no better place to be than in medicine. By medical school, you've crossed a lot of hurdles and should have the confidence to succeed. Most important, you need to be willing to work hard, pay attention and be honest with yourself."
As for the hardships of being a doctor, Miller says, "Medicine is changing, evolving and offers many more positives now than it did twenty or twenty-five years ago. There's more time off and you're able to have a family for example.
"My advice about being a doctor-or anything-is to do it because you love it; it will fulfill you, and if you are happy, you will be pleased and you will help people."
The bottom line for her, as a surgeon, she happily concludes is, "Doing a good; doing it as well as anybody can do it any time, anywhere!"
Earns M.D. from The Ohio State University, Columbus
Named "Best Intern," Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Becomes Acting Assistant Resident, Neurologic Surgery, The Ohio State University
Appointed Associate Professor of Surgery, The Ohio State University
Named Clinical Professor, The Ohio State University
Becomes Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
Ohio State University