Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Carla McMillan
Sep 15, 2021 Agata Smieciuszewski
Meet Carla McMillan! She's the associate director of Finance for the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Cedars-Sinai. Throughout her 16 years here, the President's Award winner has held several leadership positions in the institution. We chatted with the Northern California native to learn more about her journey and her love of dancing and Prince.
"My favorite part of what I do is the privilege to be in a position to help shepherd our patients through a life-changing journey of transplant and shunting away their worry and concern about any financial burdens."
Can you tell us about your background and how you got your current position?
Carla McMillan: I started out my career with interest as a nurse, and I worked for an incredible physician in an ambulatory clinic who was having issues with revenue and claim submissions. I asked him if I could take a look at a sample size and see if I could figure out what was contributing to this issue. I found that there were some key documentation components that were missing that influence the coding, patient diagnosis and patient procedural—and that was affecting his reimbursement.
There was such a great return on investment in my findings in resubmissions, and that really intrigued me. I decided to pivot away from nursing, and I went on to pursue my coding credentials. After a few years of doing this work, I joined the team at Cedars-Sinai.
Evolving through my different leadership roles has allowed me to take the experience and skills from each level of management to the next level, which has brought me to this current associate director of Finance position. I've really valued the opportunity to have advancement in different leadership positions throughout my career.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
CM: My favorite part of what I do is the privilege to be in a position to help shepherd our patients through a life-changing journey of transplant and shunting away their worry and concern about any financial burdens. It's really a privilege to be in a position to help and to actually see the outcome of what you and your team are able to provide to our patients.
What do you like to do when you're not at work?
CM: I love dancing, cooking and entertaining, but COVID-19 has certainly curtailed that a bit. I also enjoy outdoor physical fitness activities, and I try to challenge myself. I did a Tough Mudder race with a colleague in Transplant a couple years ago, which I was proud of because it was a milestone birthday year for us both. I'm also sharpening my golf game and taking guitar lessons because I dream of a performance similar to Prince's "Purple Rain" at the Super Bowl.
Which living person would you say you most admire?
CM: I would have to say my parents, who have been married for over 65 years. My parents have shown me the importance of the strength of a relationship and instilled many great qualities in me. My father has also had to endure a chronic illness, and he has done it with such dignity.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
CM: My family—my husband and our beautiful blended family of children and grandchildren. I would also say my career. I feel that I have pursued and landed great opportunities within Cedars-Sinai that have allowed me to leave an indelible imprint in each of the areas in which I've been a leader. I can look back on my 16-year career here and still see footprints of the work that I've done, and I'm very proud of that.
I also created a curriculum for the first Transplant Administrator internship. This was a 10-week summer internship offered to MBA students attending Johns Hopkins University. At the conclusion of the program, the candidate shared feedback that his experience was life-changing. I am immensely proud that the first-year internship was a success.
Another achievement that comes to mind is participating in our annual transplant department Halloween celebration. Teams come dressed in costumes and perform, and my team of 21 members did a rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance that I choreographed. We won first place!
Which TV shows are you currently watching?
CM: I'm really intrigued by "Nine Perfect Strangers" with Nicole Kidman on Hulu.
What is what is your favorite concert you've ever been to?
CM: I'm a Prince fan all the way. He did a tour at the Forum, and I went to five shows in a row. There was a surprise performer every show, and each night was $25. It was a really great tour, and I went with different girlfriends each time, so it was a different experience every night.