“John Carroll is where I learned how to build something that can endure.”
Dr. Eric Beck is the Chief Operating Officer of University Hospitals Health System, a $4.5 billion health system serving 16 counties in Northeast Ohio. Prior to becoming COO, Dr. Beck served as President of UH Ventures, the innovation, commercialization, and venturing arm of University Hospitals.
Dr. Beck has a solid track record of business innovation and success. He joined UH from the University of North Texas Health Science Center where he served as President and CEO for the UNT Health clinical enterprise, as well as Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Emergency Medicine and Associate Professor of Public Health.
Previously he was a senior executive for Envision Healthcare, a Denver-headquartered, Fortune 500, publicly traded health care services organization. He served both as Envision Healthcare’s CEO for Integrated Delivery and President and CEO of the Evolution Health subsidiary. Prior to his tenure at Envision Healthcare, Dr. Beck served as Medical Director for the City of Chicago and as full-time faculty at the University of Chicago, where he was the Assistant Residency Program Director for Emergency Medicine.
Dr. Beck began his professional career as a paramedic and also served as firefighter/paramedic with both the Russell Township and Willoughby Hills Fire Departments.
Q: Why did you attend JCU?
As a swimmer and lifeguard in high school, I became interested in the local volunteer fire department and attended night classes to become a paramedic. Working with both Russell Township and Willoughby Hills Fire Departments taught me to appreciate the public service model of leadership – that everyday citizens could make a difference in their communities.
Attending JCU meant that I could continue to serve while going to school full time. While I considered law school, my fire chief and medical directors encouraged me to pursue medical school. I was also able to connect with some local physicians who were JCU alumni that supported that direction.
Q: What story or experience best reflects your time at JCU?
One night during an on-campus student basketball game in 2001, a fellow student named Joshua Beck, who was unrelated to me, went into cardiac arrest on the basketball court. I was in the room right next door with a few other students, but we had no idea what was happening until we heard the ambulances. If we had known, we might have been able to perform CPR. We may have been able to help save him.
That experience at John Carroll ended up unlocking a lot of formative opportunities for me. After that night, I recognized a real unmet need in our campus community. I was able to use my network connections from the fire department and at local hospitals to bring together fifty student volunteers and faculty to create the first student-run volunteer EMS at John Carroll in 2002. As students, we found a way to marshal the resources and support needed to bring an essential service to campus.
The organization was accredited by the National Collegiate EMS Foundation during our first year, which was unheard of at the time. Since 2002, there has been a student chief, deputy chief and cadre of other student leaders for JCUEMS, which means the organization has provided leadership experience for hundreds of students over the past 20 years. Today, JCUEMS alumni serve in business, healthcare, education, government and other leadership roles throughout the country, and many of them remain connected, some coming back to support the organization with their time and resources. I have the privilege of now serving as the physician medical director for the JCU EMS today.
Q: What was the most valuable learning/lesson from JCU that shaped you personally or professionally?
I learned the value of inclusiveness and diversity in participation. It was an important effort that brought together different stakeholder groups. Not many student activities bring together business, education, communication, science, and ROTC students to engage in meaningful volunteer service.
In program building, I learned the value of teaching and how important that skill is as a leader. Teaching is the ultimate test of being able to effectively communicate and develop other leaders.
The establishment of JCUEMS also taught me about building something that can endure transition. One of the challenges of a student-led organization is that the leadership turns over every four years. It was important to build something with enough institutional memory and process that it could be self-sustaining. Each year we educated and trained new volunteers, providing a service learning opportunity to the students who embraced the responsibility during, and even more importantly, after their time at JCU.
There were a lot of lessons about having purpose in your actions. Those lessons helped me better understand the significance of giving students opportunities to lead early in their academic career. I pursued leadership and grew as a leader earlier than I would have otherwise due to my experience at John Carroll. My time at JCU helped me learn to lead myself, to lead others and to lead an organization.
Q: How are you making a human impact in your career?
I practice clinically as an emergency physician at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, so I continue to serve others directly in a very real and tangible way. There is nothing more rewarding than focusing on another human life and trying to restore health and wellness in a time of need.
A lot of the lessons from establishing JCUEMS resonate in my current work at UH, especially my work over the past year in our coordinated response to COVID-19. I have seen the value of inclusiveness and collaboration play into our pandemic response efforts through partnership with colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic and Metro Health to better serve our state and the region. I’ve also seen so many healthcare professionals early in their careers rise to the challenge to innovate and lead—taking advantage of opportunities they may not have otherwise had in their role but for a health crisis.
UH’s mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Fundamentally UH exists to serve the community, as it has for the past 154 years. Similar to my work with JCUEMS, my focus at UH is to ensure sustainability of the organization and its mission for the next 150 years.