Chapter Spotlight

​In this new feature, the IHI Open School will highlight some of the most innovate Chapters in its network. We will feature information on the Chapter, and focus on a new innovation or project they’ve developed.


We’re looking for other Chapters to feature. Has your Chapter held a successful event or created a Chapter resource that you think we should highlight in the Chapter Spotlight? Send us an email at and tell us what innovative projects your Chapter has done recently.

​University of California - San Francisco

​Spotlight: Created a Quality Improvement elective​

​Jennifer Samore, Pharmacy 3
Asya Ofshteyn, Medicine 2
Margaret Lim, Pharmacy 2
Ramina Sarmicanic, Dental 2
Sherry Yamamoto, Masters Nursing 2
Established: ​ ​August 15, 2008
Location:​ ​San Francisco, California, USA
Chapter Website:​
Disciplines: ​Nursing, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy





About the elective:

Last year at UCSF, the departments of medicine and pharmacy co-sponsored the Chapter's first one-day elective: Quality Improvement and Patient Safety: Introduction to the Principles. The course, which ran from 9 AM to 5 PM on a Saturday, yielded one credit for 120 students from different disciplines. This year’s QI elective, Putting Patients First, meets once a week for 10 weeks.


Why did the UCSF IHI Open School Chapter decide to create a QI elective?

The goals of the elective are to enhance students’ understanding of quality improvement and patient safety issues, engage students across disciplines and practice settings, and connect students at UCSF to the IHI Open School. There was – and still is – a real eagerness on campus to learn more about systems-based practice improvement.


How did you go about creating an interdisciplinary elective? 

Each year, we’ve managed to become increasingly interdisciplinary. This year, we have 20% representation from each of the five schools. It helps to have student representatives from every school involved in the planning. It is also helpful to have engaged and supportive leadership. 


What are the challenges you’ve faced in creating an elective and what did you learn in the process?

Developing the course can be time-consuming. It can be difficult to find a time that works for calendars across schools to meet in person. Tracking attendance has also been a challenge. So there are a lot of logistical issues that you’ll find ways to work around over time, but it wasn’t easy at first.


Do you have any advice for other Chapters interested in adding QI to their formal curriculum?

Find faculty who support the goal since students often don’t have experience in this. (At UCSF, if you want to create an elective, it’s pretty easy.) Be proactive and find a faculty member who supports your cause or someone in curriculum development who is willing to be a champion for you. That makes it easier. It’s also helpful to divide up the work between Open School Chapter leaders, and then edit and plan together.


How did you advertise and garner interest in the elective?

Last year, we didn’t anticipate more than 20 students on the first day of the elective, but 120 came.  We advertised via list serves and had a table at an information fair with IHI Open School flyers and information about the elective. It is helpful to have the course in the fall when students are more eager. In the winter, they tend to be more burnt out. During the course, we send weekly summary e-mails and links to our Twitter, Facebook, and the IHI Open School website.


What other projects does your Chapter have planned for this year?

We are going to have another elective at the end of January. We are working with faculty to introduce leadership lessons into this. Last year provided more of a historical perspective of QI and this year will offer more of the tools. The elective is geared toward students, but we also have brown bag sessions each quarter with UCSF community where we show IHI’s patient safety videos.
We are also going to try to amp up the use of social media (Twitter and Facebook) and our quarterly newsletter.