Some people are puzzled about why Miranda Meunier, a nurse practitioner at Billings Clinic, chose to work with older people as her specialty.
“I had a really special relationship with my grandmother and her friends," she said. "She just instilled in me a respect for older people, and I found their stories so interesting. From a young age there was a natural draw to older people. I guess you could say I have an old soul.”
Meunier and her grandmother did a lot of things together. “She was a big volunteer at the Great Falls hospital. I helped her in the hospital store, and she did a big Christmas bazaar,” Meunier said.
Meunier became interested in caring for older adults while working on an orthopedic floor early in her nursing career.
“We got a lot of people who had fallen and had surgery, and the idea clicked for me,” she said. “I started thinking that we’re fixing them now, but how can we better prevent falls or better care for them so that they don’t have these issues.”
Four years into her career, Meunier began exploring master’s programs. She won a full-ride scholarship to Duke University, which has one of the nation’s premiere nurse practitioner programs tailored toward geriatric care.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “They were doing a lot of cutting-edge research, and it was great to be a part of that.”
Since coming to Billings, Meunier has enjoyed sharing her passion and mentoring others. “I’m trying to engage more people to help them realize that older adults are not a sexy medical topic, but there’s so much we can learn from them.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Trying to balance patient and family wishes with appropriate medical care in a climate of increasing financial pressure from payer sources has become very challenging over the last few years. Many older adults are not able to age as gracefully as they would like and may require additional care at home or in a facility which is often not covered by insurance and is very expensive for individuals and families. Staff shortages in many home health agencies, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes also effects the quality of care older adults with complex care needs may receive.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Be persistent. It’s easy to shrug and say “OK” if you get a response you’re not happy with, but it’s important, particularly for women, to remain focused and driven about the things that make us passionate and continue to fight for the underdogs.
Who gave you that advice? My dad.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Work to create an age-friendly, dementia-friendly community in Billings so individuals and families faced with dementia and other debilitating conditions in their older years feel welcome anywhere in town. There is quite a stigma associated with these conditions and individuals and their caregivers can often feel isolated and alone. Creating a community where these people feel welcomed and cared, with an ability to stay in their homes for as long as possible, is my ultimate goal.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Music
Which living person do you most admire? I most admire my mother. She had me when she was 19, married my father and went on to have five more children. We were raised in a wonderful household that didn’t have much money, but my parents instilled the values of hard-work, love for your neighbor, and family above all else. I consider my siblings my closest friends. My mother certainly had other options open to her when she learned she was pregnant with me, but had the persistence and resilience to not only raise one great kid, but six.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Patients able to return home successfully after a prolonged medical course and resume a normal life. Patients dying comfortably surrounded by people who care for them.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Honestly, I don’t feel I have reached my greatest achievement. I am most proud of my kids and the role I have had in shaping them into the amazing people they are.
I’m happiest when I’m… In nature. Or reading in bed.