Duke University's Quality and Innovation Scholars Program (QISP) matches
students with physicians and leaders in the Duke Health System to carry out health
care improvement projects. So far, the program has reached almost 70 students.
In the following interview, Chapter leaders Kathryn Hutchins and Maria Andrews
explain how the Chapter got the program off the ground and how other Chapters can create their own practicum.
OS: How did the
Quality and Innovation Scholars Program (QISP) get started?
KH and MA: In 2011, the IHI Open School approached Duke Open
School leaders to be a pilot school for what was at the time a brand new practicum
module and project framework. Under some great Chapter leaders and mentors — Dr.
Dev Sangvai and Dr. Jonathan Bae — the practicum was adapted to Duke, and
blossomed in the 2013–2014 academic year. That work built on the model that the
Open School created and has become the current Duke format over the past few
OS: Why did you
design it as a six-month program?
KH and MA: We chose this time frame with graduate student
schedules in mind. We wanted something that would be lengthy enough to complete
a meaningful project, but not so long that it would interfere with graduate
program requirements or be difficult for busy students to fit into their
schedules. The time frame from October to April seems to work well for our
students and mentors.
So far, we’ve had scholars from many Duke graduate programs,
including the School of Medicine, the Fuqua School of Business, the Sanford
School of Public Policy, the School of Nursing, the Pratt School of
Engineering, and the Duke Global Health Institute.
OS: How have the Open
School modules helped students complete the practicum?
KH and MA: The Open School modules provide a foundation for what
students learn in the hands-on phase, and ensures that students are prepared to
learn from their projects and from their mentors. Students in the past have
described the modules as “a good balance between challenging and simple,” with useful
information that helped them develop a better framework for their practicum
OS: What do students
learn through the practicum that they wouldn’t if they only took the online courses?
KH and MA: While it’s valuable to learn about these topics
in the modules, it’s a completely different experience to participate in an
interdisciplinary QI or health care innovation project. By joining a mentor and
a team, our scholars are able to form meaningful relationships with other
passionate leaders in our rapidly changing health care system. It’s also great
that these projects provide the chance to present at conferences and publish
pieces on their work, which can be a wonderful learning opportunity.
illustrates how Duke Chapter leaders intended experiential learning to build on
didactic skills learned through the Open School’s online courses.
OS: How do you find
clinicians who wanted to work on QI projects with students?
KH and MA: At Duke University Hospital, health care
providers and even administrators often work in proximity to students. Many of
our mentors are teaching physicians who are passionate about student and
resident education as well as about quality improvement. These providers, as
well as our administrative mentors, also understand the importance of
interdisciplinary work. For these reasons, they are excited to include our
scholars in their clinical environment in order to facilitate QI projects.
OS: How do you choose
practicum projects and assign students to teams?
KH and MA: Through the guidance of our faculty advisor, we
reach out to faculty at Duke, describing the goals and components of QISP. We
then generate a list of projects that are appropriate for the program and ensure
that the mentors understand their teaching and facilitating role. On the
student application, we ask for specific interests (pediatrics, emergency
medicine, and outpatient primary care, for example) and have students list any
background or skills (such as statistics, finance, or software engineering). We
do our best to assign students to projects that match their interests and skills,
and attempt to make teams of two to three students with complementary abilities.
OS: What role have
faculty and students played in developing this program?
KH and MA: QISP is primarily student-led. Students drive the
recruitment of scholars and mentors, and make decisions that determine the
structure and components of the program. In the beginning stages of QISP around
2011, our faculty advisory council was central to the logistical formulation
and promotion to faculty and students. But IHI student leaders really developed
the idea. Over the past two years, our current faculty advisor, Dr. Jonathan
Bae, has been an enormous resource in developing and growing QISP. As an
internal medicine physician at Duke and a major player in the QI and patient
safety scene, he was able to direct us to many other potential mentors who
share his passion for quality improvement and mentorship.
OS: Why do you think interdisciplinary
experience is so important to training health care professionals?
KH and MA: Health care is inarguably a team sport. In order
to provide the best possible patient care, it’s imperative that health
professionals of different disciplines work together and contribute to the same
goal. Facilitating interdisciplinary work and building relationships between
these students of different disciplines at such an early stage will strengthen interdisciplinary
work later in their careers.
OS: What advice would
you give another Chapter that was interested in developing a similar learning
experience for students at their school?
KH and MA: Listening to both the mentors and students about
the ideal qualities of the program has been a meaningful starting point. It has
been absolutely critical to assess the program, evaluate its progress — as well
as its hiccups, setbacks, and speedbumps — and get feedback along the way. Survey
interested parties, hold info sessions, and save copies of everything! Find
leaders with a passion for bringing students into the world of QI, and develop
an experience that fits your system.
more about the IHI Open School Quality Improvement Practicum.
Read about one
project to improve depression screening in diabetic patients.
New to the IHI Open
more or take a free sample course, QI
102: The Model for Improvement: Your Engine for Change.
The Duke IHI Open School Chapter offers special thanks to faculty mentors Dr. Jonathan Bae, MD; Dr. Dev Sangvai, MD; Paula Greeno, MBA; and Dr. Janet Prvu Bettfer, ScD/FAHA; and student leaders Arthika Chandramohan, Ashley Humienny, Marisa Dowling, Lauren Groskaufmanis, Tony Chen, and Katie Falloon for their help in launching and developing the QISP program.