Nurses conversing with a patient at the reception
ATD Blog

Patient Experience in Healthcare Talent Development: Q&A With Jason Wolf

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The ATD Talent Development and Training in Healthcare Handbook (ATD Press, November 2021) addresses the many opportunities and challenges TD professionals face in the growing and rapidly changing healthcare space. Effective talent development is the thread that weaves through an entire healthcare organization to ensure it is up to standard with the latest practices in treating patients while providing a safe and engaging environment for staff. TD professionals have the unique role of tying together organizational and employee advancement in healthcare systems—and likewise, this handbook dives into areas for both business and professional evolution.

Written by 25 fellow healthcare practitioners with extensive experience in the field—from nurses, physicians, and administrators to instructional designers, chief learning officers, technology experts, and leaders across the industry, it covers six key themes across 26 chapters:

  • Learning and Development Basics
  • Organization Development
  • Employee Development
  • Business Acumen for the Health System
  • Digital Transformation and Literacy
  • Patient-Centric Care

Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, is president and CEO of the Beryl Institute and founding editor of Patient Experience Journal. He is author of the “From Patient Experience to Human Experience” chapter in the
ATD Talent Development and Training in Healthcare Handbook. In this spotlight Q&A, learn more about Wolf and his contribution to the book.

How have your practices in patient experience shaped the information shared in your chapter?

This chapter provides a practical synopsis of the major milestones in the evolution of the experience movement led by members of the Beryl Institute over the last decade. It also reinforces the fundamental idea found at the heart of the definition of patient experience itself—that the experience that people have in healthcare is shaped by the cultures we build in our healthcare organizations.

As an old OD guy, that has been a long-standing belief of mine from my own days in training and development. That the kinds of organizations we build, the values we espouse, the behaviors we expect, and the development we provide our people to deliver on those efforts are essential to ensuring any positive experience.

Healthcare is fundamentally human beings caring for human beings, so ensuring those who work in healthcare both understand that and feel valued themselves is essential for experiencing excellence overall. And this critical need to care not only for patients and care partners, but for our healthcare workforce, only made clearer by the pandemic, reinforces why a focus on human experience must be central to all we do in healthcare.

With ongoing shifts in trends and priorities, how do you foresee the advancement of the patient experience within healthcare? For example, how do you see this area flourishing for employee or organization development?

This question builds on my previous response and the natural evolution of the conversation on human experience in healthcare. There are two major things to consider here when we move in this direction—both significant steps taken in this evolution just this year.

In Reexamining “Defining Patient Experience”: The human experience in healthcare, my co-authors and I explore how the experience conversation has expanded from one of satisfaction to one that truly understands the experience we have in healthcare matters to all engaged. In this article, we wrote: "The human experience—encompassing patient, workforce and community experiences—is not a move away from the foundational definition of patient experience but rather the positive and natural expansion of it."


This aligns with what I said earlier for those receiving and those who deliver care every day. A commitment to experience in healthcare must address patient, workforce, and community needs to be fully successful. This premise calls for actions by employee and organizational development champions and professionals, and the critical role they play in healthcare is clear. This work is about teaching skills and supporting change, fostering positive culture, and ultimately driving the best in experience.

In 2011, I helped publish two books on OD in healthcare, one grounded in practice and one in research efforts. The ideas I shared then are only more significant now as I see those in training and development as essential players in ensuring the best-in-healthcare experience. In 2011, my co-editors and I wrote in concluding Organization Development in Healthcare: A Guide for Leaders: "Health care is a complex and interesting environment that holds the entirety of the human condition, all of which intensifies the space in which the OD practitioner moves. All of this makes the OD practice within health care a proud and exciting endeavor—a journey of meaning and purpose."

Development practitioners have a critical role to play, not just in the training world but in the experience space. These practices and functions that help us drive excellence in experience are more than parallel; they are intertwined. I invite those in the training and development world to join us in our global community committed to transforming the human experience in healthcare. There are people, connections, and resources waiting to ease and expedite your own journey of meaning and purpose.

The second item I will share in my answer to the question below.

Is there something you are proud of accomplishing in the past year (professionally or personally)?

My pride is grounded in how we, as a team and our community in general, at the Beryl Institute responded throughout the pandemic. The agility with which our community acted and more importantly the support that they showed for one another. Through the sharing of resources to shorten the distance to action and outcomes at a time of need to the sharing of a shoulder to lean or even cry on in these trying times, the real sense of global community was highlighted and even expanded.

This shared sense of commitment was revealed in an even more clear and focused way, with the introduction of the Declaration for Human Experience itself earlier this year. The motivation behind the declaration and our purpose was clear: Our current realities call us to forge a new existence that begins with looking beyond the distinct silos of patient experience, employee engagement or community health to focus on the common thread that binds each of these areas together—the human experience.


We have learned a lot during the pandemic about ourselves, our organizations, and each other. There is a tight bond between experience and development professionals—we all share a commitment to something bigger than ourselves. We choose to work in the interest of others. And for those who choose healthcare as their professional home, those stakes are even higher. It is why this declaration remains so important (and why I hope people will read and sign on themselves and as organizations). Below, I share its core words .

We are called to lead courageously with the understanding that we are, first and foremost, human beings caring for human beings. In answering this call, we commit to:

  • Acknowledge and dismantle systemic racism and prejudice, tackle disparities, and provide the highest quality, most equitable care possible.
  • Understand and act on the needs and vulnerabilities of the healthcare workforce to honor their commitment and reaffirm and reenergize their purpose.
  • Recognize and maintain a focus on what matters most to patients: their family members and care partners to ensure unparalleled care and a commitment to health and well-being.
  • Collaborate through shared learning within and between organizations, systems, and the broader healthcare continuum to forge a bold new path to a more human-centered, equitable, and effective healthcare system.

In making this declaration personally and publicly, we stand for all we can and must be in healthcare. In aligning our words and actions to move this cause forward, we commit to transforming the human experience in healthcare for all patients, the healthcare workforce, and the communities we serve.

My hope is that all who read this, who celebrate this great new handbook from ATD, also acknowledge their role in transforming the human experience in healthcare and sign the declaration as well.

What is a fun fact about yourself or one sentence of advice you’d like to share?

My fun fact may also be the advice I share with my boys (and have shared ever since my oldest son, now 8, started kindergarten). These are some thoughts I share with them as they start the day, “the rules,” I call them, and we continue to say these almost every day on our morning ride to school. I share these not only for them, but to remind me of the foundational ideas that can carry us through each and every day:

  • Be kind to others.
  • Learn something new.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • It is ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.

If we all could do this every day, I believe we stay true to ourselves and have profound opportunities to change the world. I am excited to travel this journey with you all and am honored to be included in this great work.

About the Author

Niranjani Chidamber Papavaritis is the Head of Content for ATD's healthcare and government industry verticals, and the Manager for ATD's global conferences and strategy. In her role, she is responsible for content and product development, partnering with SMEs and executives to create a suite of training resources through blogs, magazine articles, webinars, books, and events. Prior to working at ATD, Niranjani served as a business development advisor at Optum (under UnitedHealth Group). Her specialities include healthcare management, organizational development, business development, and content strategy. Niranjani received a degree in political science and information systems from UMBC, in Baltimore, Maryland.

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