Health system puts staff members in the spotlight

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Atrium Health employees seek to put their talents on display at work and on the stage.

Every year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based nonprofit health system invites its 70,000 staff members to participate in a talent show, “Atrium Health Has Talent.” Clinicians, administrative staff, leadership and other team members come together from across the 40-hospital system to showcase their skills.

“It’s an event that allows [staff] to bring their whole selves to work and show another part of who they are,” said Fernando Little, Atrium Health’s enterprise chief diversity officer. Little, an avid piano player, was the show’s first winner when it debuted in 2004.

More than 100 healthcare workers audition regionally each year and about a dozen advance to the finale, where the system uses a professional recording studio and collaborates with producers and makeup artists.

Since the pandemic, the event has pivoted to a virtual production. Little said the show is gaining more attention in the communities the health system serves and beyond, since it’s available for anyone to watch online. This year’s two-hour long grand finale, held in the summer, garnered more than 5,000 views within three months on YouTube. Talent included singers, guitar players, dancers and even an aerialist.

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“I felt like I already made it big,” said Janisha Adams, a singer and this year’s first-place winner.

Adams is an environmental services technician at Atrium Health Pineville in Charlotte. Before her performance, she said only her family and close friends knew about her love for singing, which started at an early age.

She said the show gave her the opportunity to share another side of herself with co-workers, some of whom she’d never met before.

Little, who is now the show’s host, hopes the platform allows fellow staff to embrace their artistic outlets, especially given all they’ve been through during the pandemic.

“It’s still very therapeutic for me to play the piano, especially when you think about the stressful moments working in healthcare can bring,” he said.

Eugene Woods, Atrium Health’s president and CEO, agreed. Art is healing for healthcare workers in a similar way that it’s healing for patients, he said.

“Music plays a significant role in bringing people closer together and forming connections. And I think we all need a little bit more of that these days,” Woods said.

He grew up surrounded by music. His mother’s side embraced flamenco while his father’s side had an affinity for rhythm and blues. Woods even released his own album this past May.

While staff have fun with the show, there is a competitive element. Atrium brings in judges, including Broadway performers, radio personalities and professional musicians to help decide which contestant deserves the winning title.

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