Jessica Peckham | Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership

Jessica Peckham.

Jessica Peckham, MSN, RN-BC, CDCES, CCM, is a nurse consultant with 16 years of diverse nursing experience, from critical care bedside nursing to community health management to program development. Driven by a passion for helping underserved communities, she found herself drawn to Harvard Medical School’s Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership program, to gain expertise in developing patient safety and quality improvement processes, managing hospital assets through analytics and leadership, and implementing innovative solutions into her work.  

Building Deep Connections

The Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership program spans a year, with three four-day workshops (two live virtual and one in-person). The current cohort includes learners from over 24 countries. Peckham noted that while health care is individual, it is also global, and the peer-to-peer learning from professionals worldwide was appealing to her. The cohort is divided into small groups, and her team has committed to meeting weekly, fostering deep bonds, and providing a support system throughout the program. 

“We’re learning so much from each other professionally, and even personally, through each one of our journeys,” says Peckham. “Although I expected the opportunity to get to know people, the deep connections that are being made have been a wonderful, pleasant surprise. In the future, we can help each other, our health care systems, and our patients.”

Addressing Real-World Health Care Challenges 

The program not only teaches essential skills in safety, quality, and informatics but also acts as a catalyst for innovation, empowering learners to address real-world challenges in health care delivery. For her capstone project, Peckham is focused on tackling transitions of care for patients with chronic conditions, a critical issue in health care. Her proposal, now in peer review, aims to challenge the standard 30-day medication supply at discharge, introducing a patient-centric approach with a 90-day supply. 

“In many organizations, when a patient is discharged, they are provided with their prescriptions for a 30-day supply with zero refills. A recent quality improvement project I led looked at patient quality issues during discharge from the acute care setting. This project revealed the average number of days patients wait to see a follow-up provider after being discharged is 53.” She explains that ongoing discussions with her clinical peers and professors in this program indicate that this issue is not unique to individual patients. “My capstone project centers on utilizing informatics to develop a clinical decision tool integrated into the EHR system, alongside a standardized order set, aiming to facilitate the provision of 90-day medication supplies upon discharge and address the quality and safety gap patients face.” 

For this project, the patient population targeted are those with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease. Prior to joining the Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership program, Peckham had many conversations with colleagues around this issue, but the capstone project helped her develop a formal solution. “The plan is to have this project implemented,” she says. “It’s going to involve some regulatory and compliance, focused cycles of quality improvement testing and analysis, and a written policy…but I look forward to beginning the pilot program within the next six to nine months.” 

Advice to Nurses 

Beyond the academic learnings, the program has reinvigorated Peckham’s passion for nursing and has illuminated the potential for positive change within health care systems. She encourages nurses to pursue the Safety, Quality, Informatics, and Leadership program, recognizing its potential to nurture nursing leadership and innovation. “The advice I would give is to carve out the time for this program. What you put into it, you will get out of it.” 

Acknowledging the time constraints nurses face, she stresses the importance of the program to their professional growth. “All health care professionals care about safety and quality, but it’s an innate nursing component. It’s the bones of being a nurse—the art and science of being a nurse is truly about providing safe, high-quality care that’s very patient centered.” 

“I feel empowered to go back to my organization and say, ‘We can make some basic changes to really improve the lives of patients and providers, too.’ There’s a lot of burnout for nurses as well as physicians. This program has helped me rediscover my passion and my love for doing what I do, and I’m hoping that will be the same for others in the cohort. If a few people stay in the industry because they completed this program, then well-done Harvard Medical School.”