Ryan Mancari ‘11, MBA in Healthcare Management
Current Position: Health System Specialist, Office of the Chief of Staff, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office

As a health system specialist in the Office of the Chief of Staff for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), I have unparalleled access to discussions and decision-making that can improve the lives of millions of U.S. veterans.

Since joining the VHA as a fellow in 2011, I have held a variety of positions. Each has brought increasing responsibility and has affirmed my decision to pursue a career with the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system. There’s nothing comparable to the size and scope of the VA system.

Perhaps even more important is the opportunity to play a role in providing world-class care to a unique population. This is my way of giving back to those who have sacrificed so much.

My path to the VA began while I was a student in the MBA in Healthcare Management Program at Union Graduate College, now Clarkson University Capital Region Campus. I obtained an internship at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center and parlayed that experience into a Graduate Healthcare Administration Training Program (GHATP) fellowship at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Since then, much of my work has been in process improvement and systems redesign. My most gratifying project to date has had a significant, positive impact on the delivery of primary care for the more than 8.9 million veterans who rely on VA medical centers and outpatient clinics.

Using a VA San Diego Healthcare System program as a model, I developed a roadmap for providing open-scheduling access for primary care. By December 2016, all 168 VA medical centers and 80 percent of community-based outpatient clinics were offering same-day services. Today, my roadmap serves as the framework for going beyond same-day services to achieve the ultimate goal of true open access in primary care.

These days, I'm focused more on assessing requests submitted to the Under Secretary for Health and making recommendations to the VHA Chief of Staff. Some of those recommendations ultimately find their way into policies and initiatives that can affect every VA facility and patient.

I trace my success to the healthcare MBA program, which combines a rigorous, relevant curriculum with an emphasis on real-world experience. Faculty members include experts from the Capital Region’s healthcare community, who provide an invaluable perspective.

When I was applying for the GHATP fellowship, it was my VA internship that set me apart, and my internship was a success because of what I learned—and then applied—in my Healthcare Operations class. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that combination of education and experience.

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