Featured Physician: Paula Miller, MD

Paula Miller, MD, is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Cardiology at UNC’s Department of Medicine, Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Director of the Women’s Heart Program at UNC’s School of Medicine.

Featured Physician: Paula Miller, MD click to enlarge Paula Miller, MD

What brought you to UNC Medical Center?

While working in the Clinical Microbiology laboratories at UNC Hospitals, I applied to UNC's School of Medicine.  After I completed medical school, I did my residency at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC.  I fell in love with cardiology and was able to work with UNC's cardiology faculty, including Dr. Leonard Gettes. Because I had an Air Force active duty commitment, I could not apply for a fellowship immediately after residency. I returned to UNC in February, 1992.  I was 36 years old when I began my fellowship!

Did you always want to be a physician?

I always knew I wanted to be in science and probably medicine.  I received my BA in biology from UNC-G and completed a second degree in Medical Technology in 1976.  Working in the clinical laboratory at Moses Cone Hospital gave me more exposure to medicine and I decided that medical school was the way to go. 

How did you choose your specialty?

During my internship, I had the luck to have a rotation with the Lebauer Cardiology.  I was hooked after my first day.  They were very supportive and in particular, Dr. Bruce Brodie, who supported my interests in direct percutaneous transluminal angioplasty.  We published our first paper together in 1987 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  Dr. Brodie, Dr. Rich Weintraub and Dr. Tom Stuckey were mentors who deepened my desire to do a fellowship.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

My patients are the best thing about my job.  I love being able to help them with their cardiovascular problems and see the satisfaction they feel when they make good changes and feel better.  I also feel rewarded when our team goes out into the communities and into the hospital for employees to do health fair screenings.  If we find one diabetic who has not been diagnosed, we know that we have changed a life and saved the healthcare system money. 

What are some of the new developments in your field of specialty?

There are many developments in cardiology but in the clinical field, I think new treatments for cholesterol in people who can’t take the HMG co-reductase inhibitors (statins) are exciting as well as our knowledge of the best diets and the importance of exercise.

Where are you from?

I was born in Memphis, TN.  My father was in the Navy and re-assigned to Washington DC.  My mother had attended college but my father had gone directly into the Navy.  He was discharged when I was two, and we moved to Mississippi where he attended the University of Mississippi. He graduated from the engineering school.  We then began a life that took us to many states as he was contracted to the Navy while working with Western Electric.  We lived in Maine, Virginia and Florida, and when I was in tenth grade, we moved Greensboro, NC.  This is a long answer to say I don’t really have a place I am from but when asked, I most often reply Greensboro because that is where I graduated high school.

Is there a particular achievement (professional or personal) that has been most gratifying to you?

I am most gratified by the development of the UNC Outreach Health Fairs and Employee Health Fairs that we have been able to do over the last 10-15 years. 

I also want to mention the most prized part of my life.  My husband of 35 years, Steve, helped me through fellowship, while we raised two kids who were 3 and 5 when I started in 1989.  I'm also proud of my two sons who put up with a mom who had crazy hours. They have both grown up to be successful men with wonderful wives.  I could not have done any of this without them.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To treat your patients as you would want your family or yourself to be treated.

If you weren’t a physician, what would you like to be doing?

I can’t imagine any career that would give me more joy and really don’t know what I would do if I had not been able to pursue medicine.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy reading, taking long walks, hiking, fishing and exercising.

Do you have a life motto?

We are all the same and deserve the same chances.