Empathy-driven leadership: Rylee Miller embarks on her journey to transform rural health care

2At the age of 25, Rylee Miller is not just a Master in Health Administration student. Miller embodies the essence of a natural-born leader, driven by empathy and a relentless commitment to making a difference. Standing on the brink of a new chapter in her life, Miller is excited to leave a mark on rural health care in South Dakota. For her, health care leadership and administration are more than a career choice—they are profound callings deeply ingrained in since childhood.

Growing up in a household where healing was a way of life, with her mother practicing as a chiropractor, Miller was immersed in a culture of compassion and service from the earliest of days. It was here, in the midst of observing her mother’s unwavering dedication to others, that Miller’s innate leadership qualities began to flourish. Throughout her life, she has seamlessly woven empathy into her leadership roles, even within The University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health. Now, as she embarks on her journey to transform rural health care, Miller’s unwavering passion and empathetic leadership promise to be a driving force in shaping the future of health care delivery.

“Thinking back to my childhood, I saw my mom working hard to help people. That really taught me to work hard and pay attention to the little things,” Miller recalled. “But in health care, the most important detail that often gets overlooked or pushed aside is empathy. Treat each person like they’re the most important to you, because they are to someone.”

Throughout her time at HSC, Miller emerged as a natural-born leader, driven by a deep-seated desire to make a difference in the lives of others. From serving as the first-year Health Administration Student Associationrepresentative to assuming the role of president, her leadership was defined not by titles or accolades but by her genuine concern for the well-being of her peers and colleagues. As an orientation leader, she welcomed incoming students with open arms, instilling in them the values of compassion and empathy that she held dear.

“For me, being a natural leader has always meant freely expressing my thoughts and ideas,” remarked Miller. “But more significantly, it’s been a fulfilling journey to understand the essence of effective leadership, which lies in dialogue, attentive listening and a genuine consideration for the concerns of others — a capability I have been able to master due to my mentors at HSC.”5

Now, as she prepares to embark on her fellowship with Avera Health in South Dakota, Miller is filled with anticipation for the opportunities that lie ahead. In a smaller, more intimate setting, she sees the chance to connect with patients on a deeper level, to truly understand their needs and concerns.

“I’m from a small town in northwest Iowa, just a couple of hours from where I’ll be starting my fellowship at Avera Health,” Miller explained enthusiastically. “I can’t wait to dive into rural health, especially after interning in the hustle and bustle of the DFW metroplex. I think my focus on detail and patient care will really shine there, and I’m excited to build connections in the community.”

As she looks toward the future, Miller’s vision is clear: “To leave behind a legacy of kindness, empathy, and attentiveness.”

She hopes that her time at HSC will be remembered not for her accomplishments but for the lives she touched and the hearts she inspired. For Miller, the journey is just beginning, but her passion for health care leadership and administration, and her unwavering commitment to empathy will continue to light the way for generations to come.


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