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Dundee Students for Safer Patients and the Paper Aeroplane Factory

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, April 3, 2013

By Elaine McCleary, Nursing Lead, and Ellie Salter, Medical Lead

The Reducing Harm Improving Healthcare Conference, promoting quality and safety in patient care, has been running in Scotland for three years. Last month, and it was Dundee’s turn to host the one-day gathering. And since they are an important part of local improvement efforts, the IHI Open School members were invited to facilitate a workshop. 

Having successfully organized a paper aeroplane training in November, we offered to share the activity to a wider audience. Our hope was to promote system design skills in a fun and interactive manner.

Our audience ranged from students to organizational directors, and represented a variety of professions in Scotland – so being well prepared was essential. In preparation for the event, we worked with faculty members to plan and organize the workshops, which included timed run-throughs, briefing sessions with other workshop facilitators, and lots of folding!


Paper Airplane Demo


When the day arrived, more than 120 delegates were divided into smaller groups of approximately 20, who went to one of two paper aeroplane workshops, which ran simultaneously. After running the first session, it became apparent that one group wasn’t so tight on quality control, and was allowing defective products to be shipped to the customer! This highlighted the importance of quality control versus productivity when designing a successful system and sparked a lively debate. 

The second and third workshops ran successfully and the presentation delivery became slicker each time. Each workshop managed to prompt new discussion topics, meaning that no two workshops were the same. We were pleased that we were able to stick within the one-hour timeframe for each workshop. 

Paper airplane group


Feedback from delegates suggested that they all enjoyed the engaging, stimulating workshops and could identify areas where they could apply system design skills in their workplace. They also complimented the student facilitators on their lively delivery. This fun event took a lot of preparation to ensure that it ran smoothly on the day. Working together as a team, we would highly recommend using this activity in your Chapter or workplace. You and potential participants will benefit from the exercise and the message it delivers.

Are you ready for takeoff?

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