Health system’s book club opens new chapter on staff engagement


“It’s almost as if when we get together every month, we’re old friends,” Megerian said. Instead of talking about the company’s market share, operational challenges or other issues, participants share their thoughts about the two assigned books—one Megerian selects and the other chosen by a group vote. Participants connect themes about leadership, wellness and diversity to their professional and personal lives.

“In some ways, you could argue every one of these books is about a hero’s journey, and those are important life lessons, not just in medicine,” said Dr. Richard Grossberg, a pediatric neurodevelopmental disabilities specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and a regular book club participant.

Megerian finds nonfiction books about how others have overcome challenges especially motivating. “I learn from them about how they developed resilience [and] flexibility and, most importantly, how … to be a better leader,” he said.

The health system gives employees access to books via the online app Libby, a digital library with free e-books, audiobooks and magazines. One month’s readings included the nonfiction Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Dr. Damon Tweedy.

Participants say the initiative has created a welcoming environment and an open line of communication with others from around the health system.

“For me, it says that when I do have a problem or I feel overwhelmed, this is a safe environment to reach out,” said Karla Mallard, a clinical coordinator at UH Minoff Health Center at Chagrin Highlands. “You just can’t beat seeing your leader eye to eye.”

Grossberg said improving workforce satisfaction should be key for health system leaders, especially given the pandemic’s impact. As health systems look to merge and expand their footprints, he said leaders need to create more opportunities for interaction with staff.

“It’s not an easy time to lead, so I think things like this are even more valuable for people to feel connected to the workplace,” Grossberg said.

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