Even as a teenager, Nancy Gagliano ’81 knew she wanted to be a doctor. Always good in math and science, she had the mental acuity and stamina to make it happen. She also had parents who believed in her.
“My parents were incredibly supportive of me doing anything I wanted to do, even in a day and age when becoming a female doctor was a pretty lofty goal,” Gagliano said. “My experience at Union was also absolutely extraordinary.”
She majored in biology and computer science, studied Renaissance art on a term abroad in Italy, was a member of Delphic Society and Phi Beta Kappa, and was a resident adviser. Among other things.
“I know it was Union that opened the door for me to get into Harvard,” she said. “Union positioned me to make a difference and impact lives.”
After earning her M.D. in internal medicine, she joined Massachusetts General Hospital’s Women’s Health Associates as a primary care physician.
“I practiced medicine for 21 years,” Gagliano said. “And I realized pretty early on that I have a passion not only for caring for patients, but for impacting more than one life at a time.
So during her two decades with MGH (which started in 1989), she looked for leadership roles that would allow her to help patients in a broader way.
“Ultimately, I became senior vice president for practice improvement,” Gagliano said. “I was able to positively impact the ability of our providers to see patients in 400 medical practices at Mass General.”
And then in 2010, she seized a chance to improve medical care on an entirely new level. As senior vice president and chief medical officer of CVS MinuteClinic at CVS Health Corp., she “was able to impact health care across a nation.”
“When I got there, CVS had 400 MinuteClinics and over 1,100 when I left,” Gagliano said. “There’s estimated to be about a 30,000 physician shortage in primary care, so by providing access to care for basic medical problems like sore throats and vaccinations, MinuteClinic is filling a real need—and seeing close to 6 million patients a year.”
Gagliano also helped lead CVS’s national smoking cessation program and the piloting of its telehealth program, which allows patients to video conference with providers.
It was great experience for her newest role. In September 2016, she joined a health care consulting company, Culbert Health Solutions, as chief medical officer.
Here, she’s guiding the development of strategic approaches for deploying telehealth programs in hospitals and private practices. She’s also overseeing efforts to aid these entities in using electronic health records more effectively and efficiently, while simultaneously heading up training efforts for physicians, who are critical to the governance of health care organizations.
“Culbert is helping me continue my mission to improve health care and make it easier for physicians to provide great care,” Gagliano said. “Each new role has allowed me to have greater and greater impact on health care.”