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ATD Blog

Performance Improvement in Healthcare: Q&A With Jenny Harshman

Thursday, December 16, 2021

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

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Jenny Harshman is manager of clinical education at Children’s Health System of Texas. She is author of the chapter on performance improvement in the ATD Talent Development and Training in Healthcare Handbook. In this spotlight Q&A, learn more about Harshman and her contribution to the book.

How have your experiences in performance improvement shaped the information shared in your chapter?

Because performance improvement is such an important part of being in healthcare, I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my career to really development my skills—first as a bedside nurse when performance improvement was important for patient care and onboarding of new nurses; now in my role as a manager of a department that provides training to directly support performance improvement to the clinical roles of the organization. Each time I go through a performance improvement process, I learn something new and am able to refine my practice and improve the care and support I provide.


With ongoing shifts in trends and priorities, how do you foresee advancement in performance within healthcare? For example, how do you see this area flourishing for employee or organizational development?

As healthcare becomes more and more of a consumer-driven field, it will become essential for healthcare organizations to look at performance improvement opportunities. Healthcare organizations must focus on creating the best and safest experience for their potential and current customers. Performance improvement creates efficiencies, removes waste, develops processes to reduce errors, and can affect financial gains. Performance improvement will continue to be an important part of all healthcare organizations, and the talent development departments can be highlighted through training and reinforcement of performance improvement interventions.


What is something unexpected you learned or encountered while working on this book?

I doubted myself initially as someone who had expertise to share, and only when I started writing and quickly reached more than 20,000 words did I realize I had something to say. It’s great to be able to reflect on your years and discover you have something to share to help others in an industry you truly enjoy.

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

As I have continued to “own” my expertise, in this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to present three times at national conferences about training in healthcare. I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and hearing about different ways people have excelled in healthcare training too. Personally, my husband and I have successfully introduced a COVID-19 puppy into our lives because we are both working from home.

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

Sentence of advice: If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself. We all need to love ourselves more and give ourselves grace.

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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