Why It Matters
Because it’s not always easy to find opportunities to apply your QI learning, we recently hosted a Global Chapter Call for Chapters to share advice on this topic.
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Tips for Integrating QI Projects into Your Chapter’s Work

By Kyumon Murrell | Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Student-QI-projects

Project-based learning is an essential pillar of the IHI Open School. Why? Because taking some online courses and joining a local Chapter is just the beginning — learning the skills to improve health care requires real-world practice.

Because it’s not always easy to find opportunities to apply your learning, we recently hosted a Global Chapter Call for Chapters to share advice on this topic. The full recording and slides are available here.

Below is a summary of what we learned during the call, in which three Chapters shared advice for best practices during different stages of an improvement project.

1. Identify a meaningful project.

Consider two approaches for identifying local improvement projects:

  • Work with a local partner — a health care facility or community entity — to set up and define an improvement project together. The University of Michigan Chapter has done continuous improvement projects in partnership with its free student-run clinic as well as their university health system.
  • Connect students with faculty, residents, or health professionals who are connected to local improvement projects that are already underway. The University of Vermont (UVM) Chapter has made more than 150 projects available to students by pairing students with faculty who are leading projects in an initiative called the UVM Performance Improvement Collaborative.
2. Identify team members — with a goal of diversity. 

QI projects require dedicated individuals who have a firm grasp of the project goals and are willing to work for the project to be successful; establish early on who will perform tasks such as coming up with ideas, gaining buy-in from key stakeholders, and bringing everyone together to evaluate the project. 

As you develop your team, remember that diversity breeds innovation. As Samantha Magier, the Northeast Regional Leader and a Chapter Leader at UVM, said “Quality improvement is a multidisciplinary component of health care.”

Having an interprofessional project team strengthens projects and learning. At the University of Michigan, the Chapter requires potential project participants to apply and intentionally selects diverse team members. At Duke University, the Chapter consists of students from the schools of Public Health, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dental, Health Informatics, Business, and Engineering, and the Chapter members work together on projects for the betterment of their patients and communities.

3. Keep team members engaged.

Anything worth doing takes time and patience. Mentors and students need to be kept engaged to work at a high level throughout the duration of a project, sometimes over a long period of time.

Andrea McAuliffe, the Chapter President at University of Michigan, shared how project co-chairs connected with the rest of the team on a monthly basis for project updates. This practice allowed everyone to stay connected and aware of what was happening “on the ground.” If any issues arose, they could address them in a timely and effective manner.


As these three Chapters showed, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for integrating QI projects into your Chapter’s work; each Chapter found success in its own way. We hope these tips will help you and your Chapter craft an approach that works for you.


Want to learn more?
The Chapters featured in this summary welcome you to contact them at the email addresses below. For information about two project-based learning opportunities available through the Open School, check out our Experiential Learning Overview.

University of Vermont — Students for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (SQIPS)

Chapter Leaders:

Faculty Advisor: Ted James, ted.james@uvm.edu

Duke University

Chapter Leaders:

Faculty Advisor: Jonathan Bae, jon.bae@duke.edu

University of Michigan

Chapter Leader: Andrea McAuliffe, ammca@umich.edu                     

Faculty Advisor: Dan Alyeshmerni, dalyeshm@med.umich.edu

Kyumon Murrell is the Project Assistant for the IHI Open School.

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