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About this Quick Course

​​​​So, you can explain what the letters PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) mean. Great!  But, are you able to successfully run multiple PDSA tests in one day, know when a change concept is ready for implementation, and then sustain the improvements? 

Built around the Model for Improvement (MFI), the IHI Quick Course, Back to Basics: Building Essential QI Skills demonstrates how to link the three questions related to aim, measurement, and change concepts to the sequence for success. This one-day course will provide a jump start for those who are new to quality improvement, and a refresher for those who are feeling stalled in their improvement efforts.

Dates and Locations

What You'll Learn

At the end of this IHI Quick Course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the elements of the Model for Improvement
  • Identify the necessary elements to charter an improvement project and develop an aim statement
  • Develop high-leverage change ideas using driver diagrams and other tools
  • Identify a family of measures, including operational definitions, to drive improvement work
  • Develop effective PDSA cycles that build from small-scale testing to implementation
  • Describe the difference between implementation, scale and spread, and guidance in each stage

This workshop carries a maximum of 6.5 continuing education credits for physicians, pharmacists, and nurses.

Workshop content


  • Introduction to the System of Profound Knowledge and the Model for Improvement
    • Defining your system
    • Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge
    • Application of profound knowledge to improvement work
    • The Model for Improvement and learning
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
    • Elements of an improvement project charter
    • Aim statement development
    • Critique multiple aim statements
  • What changes can we make that lead to improvement?
    • Methods to generate change ideas
    • First order versus second order change
    • Driver diagrams


  • How will we know that a change is an improvement?
    • Measurement for improvement
    • Moving from concept to measure
    • Developing a family of measures (outcome, process, and balancing)
    • Operational definitions 
    • Understanding data over time
    • Common cause versus special cause variation
    • Introduction to run charts
  • Testing changes and Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles (PDSA)
    • Sequence of change
    • PDSA cycles
    • Tips for testing
    • Building sequential PDSA cycles
    • Testing in parallel
  • Implementation, sustaining, and spread
    • Describe the difference between testing and implementation
    • Guidance on sustaining improvement
    • Guidance on spread 
  • Introduction to other tools in the QI toolbox ​​​