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5 Non-Business Books Healthcare Executives Must Read in 2020

MHE PublicationMHE February 2020
Volume 30
Issue 2

Top thought leaders share their favorite non-business reads.

Rebecca Madsen

Rebecca Madsen

Scott Pingree

Scott Pingree

Beth E. Walker

Beth E. Walker

David G. Carmouche

David G. Carmouche

Do you want to recognize and overcome the inner barriers that prevent you from igniting your creativity and pursuing your most authentic goals and dreams?

They’re enticing propositions that Joe Tye, founder and head coach at Solon, Iowa-based Values Coach, Inc., a consulting, training, and coaching company, says healthcare executives will discover reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

“While the book is written for writers and artists, the message is highly applicable to anyone who finds themselves struggling to overcome the inner Resistance,” says Tye, who notes that Pressfield capitalizes the word in the same way historians capitalize Great Depression or Black Plague.

Related: What Healthcare Book Have You Found to be the Most Inspiring?

Here are four more non-business books that healthcare executives should read in 2020:

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, MD

Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer at the Minnetonka, Minn.-based for-profit managed care organization UnitedHealthcare, says “this book tells a harrowing tale of a brilliant doctor, and later writer, who is diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Exploring the patient-doctor relationship was insightful, especially because Kalanithi was in both roles.” Kalanithi’s memoir was published in 2016, nine months after his death in March 2015.

Madsen says this book will help executives “understand the patient experience, the harrowing ups and downs after receiving a difficult diagnosis, and how to help people throughout, and, at the end of, their journeys. The foundation for that is empathy, and Kalanithi left a beautiful legacy for all of us on how to walk that path with dignity and grace.”

“Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande

Scott Pingree, chief strategy officer at Salt Lake City-based Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Health, a National Cancer Institute-designated facility, describes Gawande’s book as taking a “compelling and needed look at the unacceptable state of end-of-life care in the United States. The personal stories in the book-especially that with [Gawande’s] father-reinforced and reconnected me to the concept that we are all in this together and, as healthcare executives, what we do really matters to people and can help them in their lives at very vulnerable times. It’s up to us [as healthcare executives] to address the shortcomings of the current system.”

Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, published “Being Mortal” in 2014; since then, he has been tapped to be CEO of Haven, the joint healthcare venture of Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway.

“Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell

Beth E. Walker, FACHE, chief executive officer of Ochsner Baptist, which is part of New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest nonprofit, academic health system, recommends this book because it “addresses some societal challenges, and suggests we may have had different outcomes had we not relied on logic or perceived truth,” she says. Gladwell’s advice is to approach others with “‘caution and humility,’ and see what transformations may happen,” adds Walker.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

David G. Carmouche, MD, president of Ochsner Health Network, which is part of Ochsner Health System, recommends this book, in part, because it reminds him of the beautiful nature that surrounds the area where he grew up in North Carolina, where the novel is set.

The book’s other selling points? It’s “a murder mystery with an intricate, engaging plot and tremendous character development,” he says. “I like to move between fictional, business, and non-fiction books to create more diversity in what I read. This also doubles as good conversation starters when I meet new people.”

Aine Cryts is a writer based in Boston.

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