There were two major points in the life of Nina Dusang that led her to different aspects of her career—one was toward accounting and the other was getting involved in the healthcare industry.
Studying at Louisiana Tech, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do, but she knew she wanted to be in business and become an executive, something she learned about from her dad.
“My very first year, I took an accounting course and didn’t know anything about it,” Dusang recounts. “My roommate was majoring in accounting and that was her goal in life. Halfway through the course, she sat me down and told me I needed to think about majoring in accounting.”
The reason? Dusang had a 99 average and thought it was an easy class, when in fact it was not. “It was a moment of realization that I had a natural talent for this, and my mind worked this way, so I changed my major to accounting,” she shares.
By the end of the semester, Dusang fortuitously received a call from her uncle, someone she hadn’t talked to in years, alerting her of a job available at his company working for the CFO. So, Dusang went to work at Prager Inc. in downtown New Orleans and fell in love with working on the business side of manufacturing.
“The CFO took the time to mentor me. He allowed me, a mere freshman in college, to develop a computerized inventory system, among other things,” Dusang explains. “He allowed me to put my hands into anything I was interested in, and so I went back every summer and Christmas break. Over the years, I got to see what it meant to be a CFO and advisor at the executive level.”
By 1993, Dusang had worked as a CPA for a national firm, gotten married, and moved to a different office, where she was asked to work in its healthcare practice.
“I fell in love with healthcare; it was so dynamic. Unlike other industries, the reimbursement rules and accounting practices changed regularly due to the enhanced regulatory environment, so I found it really exciting,” Dusang notes.
However, the manager of the division, whom she described as a “fundamentalist,” did not believe women should work, which he voiced. He told her point-blank that he didn’t think Dusang should be putting her husband through school by working.
Being a very strong person and having none of it, Dusang knew she had no future working for this individual and started looking for a new opportunity. That came at an acute care center, and by age twenty-six, Dusang was a CFO with Health Management Associates.
“I was honored to earn the opportunity to lead a team at such a young age,” she says. “Looking back, it gave me a ton of determination and invaluable experience, including knowing when to let go and move on. I continue to take chances, always looking for opportunities to grow and to grow others. Being an influence to others, including women like me seeking leadership positions, is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of my journey.”
In 2011, Dusang joined DCH Health System. Today, she serves as the CFO and senior vice president for the over $500 million, Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based not-for-profit health system.
“What attracted me to DCH was the opportunity to work in a university town where you find a good bit of diverse thinking,” she explains. “The health system was interesting, because it is a sole provider but still has opportunity for growth. A lot about that was intriguing.”
In her role, she has overseen information technology, provider operations and recruitment, supply chain, pharmacy, and much more—which she describes as a “nontraditional blend of responsibilities.”
“That’s one of the things that make it exciting—it’s not just the typical aspects of being a CFO,” she enthuses. The motivational, results-driven leader consistently inspires action and progressive initiatives, while remaining grounded in solid data and business principals.
“My passion and mission are to ensure our financial stability so that we are able to give back and strengthen our community,” she says. “One of the things we’ve done is with our retail pharmacy. We had an outside group running a pharmacy here on site, and I thought there was no reason why DCH couldn’t do that on its own.
“We have a very capable pharmacy team, so we put together a fantastic plan,” she continues. “The money generated helps us to provide free or reduced cost prescriptions to people who are uninsured or underinsured. It has been invaluable to patients’ continuum of care.”
She also proved instrumental in modernizing DCH’s revenue cycle and is working to make it even better.
“There is a ton of talk out there right now about how automation and AI can help revenue cycles become more efficient, less error-prone, and more patient-centric. But the truth is, hardly anyone has really done it well yet,” Dusang explains. “So, we’re looking to partner with the right vendors to create an experience in our revenue cycle that reduces our costs as an organization and improves the experience for our patients. I’m cautious, which means I may not jump at the first opportunity, opting instead to evaluate multiple ideas to ensure we are pursuing the best solutions.”
FinThrive has worked with Nina and DCH Health System on a recent front-end revenue management technology implementation of Access Coordinator. “Nina is a transparent leader who values true partnership,” says Brad Rennick, chief customer officer at FinThrive. “We worked closely together to develop and meet high standards of success for improved efficiencies, ensuring positive outcomes. Her collaborative leadership approach and open communication style allowed for an agile environment that ensured a smooth and effective implementation.”
As someone who believes that she and her team should laugh every day, Dusang understands the value of enjoying your work, especially in such a stressful industry as healthcare.
“If we can’t find some laughter and joy in what we do, it’s going to wear us down,” she says. “It’s important to me that people feel like they are important and can have fun; that creates longevity. That’s important as a leader.”