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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 ​​​


catherin craige.gif Michael A. Posencheg, MD, Neonatologist and Medical Director, Intensive Care Nursery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Attending Physician, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has interests in the areas of quality improvement and patient safety. He completed the Improvement Advisor (IA) and Graduate IA program at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. His team has made significant improvements in reducing unplanned extubations in ventilated infants, redesigning delivery room care and improving admission temperatures for infants with a birth weight <1250g, and reducing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization in the Intensive Care Nursery. Dr. Posencheg created a curriculum utilizing simulation technology to improve the teaching of neonatal resuscitation to pediatric residents. The results of this project and the delivery room redesign were published in Pediatrics. Dr. Posencheg is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.