July 16, 2020 • By Christine Byrd
As a registered nurse, Greg Mignano has traveled around the country opening new dialysis clinics. His knack for establishing new programs and making them hum with efficiency led him to Stanford Hospital and eventually to UCI Medical Center.
“I absolutely love what I do,” says Mignano. He excels at it, too. This spring, he was recognized at UCI as Nurse Manager of the Year.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Mignano is now pursuing his MBA at The Paul Merage School of Business while working full time at the UCI Medical Center —in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve always had the passion to get my MBA,” he says. “I want to take my career to the next level and having that operational business understanding is really the key.”
Passion for patients
Mignano is no stranger to working full-time while going to school. He pursued a career in healthcare at the urging of his late mother, who was herself a nurse. As soon as he earned his associate’s degree, he started working the night shift as a nurse while completing an accelerated one-year bachelor’s program at the University of Colorado.
“I’m always drawn to learning new things,” says Mignano, who moved from a medical ICU to a dialysis center early in his career and thrived there. “Dialysis allowed me to incorporate critical thinking and nursing with technology, and I love technology.”
Soon Mignano was in demand across the country, opening new dialysis clinics where he was responsible for hiring and training staff and ensuring the clinic’s procedures met stringent requirements set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2012, while he was busy opening dialysis centers in the San Francisco Bay area, Mignano earned his master’s degree in nursing leadership online from Regis University.
For a couple of years, Mignano took a break from dialysis centers to work at Stanford Hospital and establish a new clinical advice phone service for patients. There, he took a deep dive into understanding the power of electronic patient records systems and helped his team transition from relying on Excel spreadsheets to utilizing customized daily reports from their digital record system.
“Data is so important in the healthcare setting. Everybody wants their numbers,” says Mignano. “In nursing, we can learn new ways to leverage technology to make things more efficient and automated and ultimately, to take better care of our patients.”
Business for better healthcare
Yet it was his expertise with dialysis protocols that brought Mignano to UCI in 2019. After his initial engagement, he stayed at UCI and was promoted to surgical intensive care unit and inpatient dialysis services manager.
As his nursing career flourished, Mignano’s desire for a business degree only intensified. He wanted to understand and contribute to conversations about finance and P&L statements and a business degree would prepare him for greater leadership roles in the industry.
“Nurse managers hardly ever get education in the business side of healthcare, nor the finance side of healthcare,” says Pat Patton, chief nursing officer at UCI Medical Center. “Having Greg earn his MBA will help him better manage his budget, allocate resources and lead his unit to even greater success.”
One of Mignano’s requirements was that the school on his diploma needed to be one that made him proud, so UCI’s position as one of the top public universities in the country appealed to him. Additionally, his experience and continued interest in leveraging new technologies to perform his job aligned perfectly with the Merage School’s focus on digital leadership. Sealing the deal, Mignano was awarded one of the School’s $55,000 scholarships for top recruits in honor of its 55th anniversary.
“When I interviewed Greg, I was impressed with his empowering leadership style,” said Jon Masciana, executive director of the FEMBA program. “Greg is a transformational leader, someone who values creating ‘closed loop communications’ with his team, and he ensures that his employees have the tools to succeed. Greg is well-deserving of the digital transformation scholarship and we are excited to have him. He will excel in his career at UCI and he will inspire his classmates in the FEMBA program.”
“It is all serendipitous to me that I was admitted to the FEMBA program, received a scholarship and am managing through Covid-19, while being recognized for leadership,” says Mignano.
The global pandemic hit right as Mignano embarked on the FEMBA program, putting him in the first cohort to complete the intensive residential weekend remotely. Although he looked forward to attending in-person classes on campus, Mignano says online courses and weekly virtual check-ins with his cohort teammates have been ideal since he is now juggling additional challenges at the hospital due to the pandemic.
“I’m elated to be in this program,” says Mignano, “and on my way to self-actualization in Maslow's hierarchy of needs."
Mignano isn’t the only one bound to benefit from his education.
“More and more today, new equipment coming into the medical center is digital,” says Patton. “By learning to leverage digital transformations effectively at the Merage School, Greg will be better positioned to help us build the hospital of the future.”