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ATD Blog

Safety and Reliability in Healthcare: Q&A With Candy Baptist and Daniel Gandarilla

Friday, November 12, 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

Daniel Gandarilla is senior vice president and chief talent officer for Atrium Health. Candy Baptist is the director of the Career Transformation Center, part of the Texas Health Resources University at Texas Health Resources. They collaborated on the “Culture of Safety and Reliability” chapter of the ATD Talent Development and Training in Healthcare Handbook. In this spotlight Q&A, learn more about their careers and contribution to the book.

How has being involved in safety and reliability initiatives shaped the best practices you shared?

Candy Baptist.jpg
Baptist: Any project that involves wide-scale change must be supported and modeled by leadership. An opening message is great, but a sustained drive needs more effort to motivate employees to reach organizational goals. Leaders must continuously encourage and reward safety, quantify the impact from the C-suite to the significant contributor level, and find ways for employees to share the success of making meaningful contributions.

Daniel Gandarilla
Gandarilla: The initiative that I worked on and that we wrote about helped to serve a best practice in how I now frame all initiatives. So many times we rush to launch without considering sustainment or getting everyone to the table. This effort was intentional and methodical in approach.


How do you foresee the advancement of talent development in these areas within healthcare? For example, in an ideal world, how do you see this area flourishing for employee or organization development?

Baptist: In healthcare, competencies traditionally focused more on “skills” practiced by clinicians. Now we are seeing that regardless of job role, organizations are recognizing that each employee has competencies and behaviors that should be measured objectively to ensure they are meeting role expectations. A nurse manager would be expected to have a mix of clinical competencies to care for a patient and professional competencies to lead a nursing unit. Likewise, a vice president of finance would be expected to have a mix of accounting competencies and professional competencies to lead a finance unit.

Gandarilla: As we get consider how to find, grow, and keep talent, it’s important to understand that culture will make or break any efforts. In my experience, having a culture focused on safety and reliability is foundational to keeping employees once they are hired. Your best talent wants to know how you can help them do their jobs better. Reliability requires that this is a practice, not words on a page.

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

Baptist: Looking back gives you the opportunity to learn lessons. As a clinician, I am used to handling outbreaks of disease that affect the community, but I never expected to experience something like COVID-19, a disease that upended the fabric of my personal and professional life!

Gandarilla: Working on this book taught me the behind the scenes of writing, editing, and reframing your ideas. I think our chapter went through eight to 10 iterations. Each was a slightly different approach that we took to ensure our readers got what they needed. The overall act of writing, editing, and rewriting was the key to success and continually refining the message to make the work actionable and meaningful.


Is there something professional or personal you are proud of accomplishing in the past year?

Baptist: I’m proud of being included in this book. This was on my bucket list for the last 10 years! As an educator, I’m used to sharing my knowledge with groups within my organization and occasionally having the opportunity to share topics at industry seminars. My hope is that this book will serve to spark ideas within multiple industries to consider that there are many ways of transferring ideas and best practices.

Gandarilla: I am proud of accomplishing two particular things during the past year. The first is that I changed organizations in the midst of the pandemic, leaving Texas Health and joining Atrium Health. I have crossed the one-year threshold, and I am excited about what I have accomplished in the past year.
The second thing I was able to do was complete my dissertation for my doctoral degree. It was a long journey, but I am proud that I was able to complete it in May.

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

Baptist: I’ve always told my nursing students that although we are in a serious business, remember that learning and providing healthcare is also enjoyable and rewarding. So, smile.

Gandarilla: I’m not sure if this is a fun fact or piece of advice, but my wife and I are trying to raise two girls to be good human beings first. My favorite part of the day is at dinner I ask them the same question: “Tell me something you did to help someone else today.” Whether they share they held a door for someone or helped someone in need, we celebrate and thank them for doing that nice thing. I am constantly surprised at the small but nice acts they do for others.

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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