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Steering an IHI Open School Chapter at the University of Utah

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, January 8, 2014

By Jason Madsen, University of Utah, Chapter Leader

At the University of Utah, our Open School Chapter has a vision to include as many departments with an interest in quality and safety initiatives in health care as possible. With that in mind, we used our Chapter steering meeting this November as an opportunity to gather at least one representative from each of these departments and give them an overview of our group, and how we could benefit students in their respective programs. Our hope is that after giving them this presentation and including them in our discussions, they’ll be excited to help support the chapter as we develop, and find ways to integrate IHI into their programs.


Planning the Meeting:

After setting the date, we worked with the Master of Health Administration (MHA) Program Director and the Program Manager to compile a list of names in the various health care departments throughout the University, which included the College of Nursing, College of Business, School of Medicine, College of Health, College of Pharmacy, College of Social Work, and the College of Social and Behavioral Science.


We drafted an invitation well in advance of our meeting and emailed it to the individuals on our list, asking for their participation or the participation of a colleague, as well as asking if any students might be interested in taking on leadership roles within the Chapter. This email was very well accepted, and many of the departments circulated the information to help us find representatives who could attend the meeting. We received RSVPs from 14 individuals throughout the University.


Other planning included the creation of a PowerPoint to present at the meeting, arrangements for refreshments, and other logistical items. We spoke with Jessica Perlo, the Community Manager for the IHI Open School, and were able to integrate IHI’s PowerPoint that introduces and explains the Open School with one of our own and received handouts and bookmarks for each of the participants.


The Meeting:

The meeting went well. We had representatives from Pharmacy, Nutrition, Quality (Hospital System), Health Promotion, School of Medicine, Physical Therapy, School of Business, College of Health, College of Nursing, and Emergency Medical Services. There was a lot of discussion around how the Chapter could help students fulfill some of their programs’ educational requirements (e.g. research, program development, etc.) and how we could align Chapter initiatives with the goals of the hospital system.


The biggest concern the attendees expressed was the time that would be required of students’ already full schedules. This led to a discussion of how IHI programs can be integrated into a curriculum or other methods to combine IHI programming with some of the things students are already being asked to do. We were not able to come up with more specific solutions in the short time period we had, but these concerns will be heavily considered as we move forward with the development of the Chapter.


After the Meeting:

Overall, the meeting had a positive effect. We have received emails from many of the attendees expressing their interest in continuing their involvement with our Chapter. We believe that we successfully illustrated our value to students in each of the different groups at the meeting, and this understanding will help us in the future when we ask for support in upcoming events.


Of special note, one of the individuals present at the meeting expressed an interest in taking the information that we presented about our Chapter to the Chief of Quality for the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. The hospital system is in the process of developing a system-wide program aimed at improving quality and safety throughout the system, and, given our similar mission, our IHI Chapter could be a good conduit for involving students and faculty in that program.


Going Forward:

Our plan is to continue to pursue working with the University of Utah Hospital System to see if we can integrate our Chapter into their system-wide quality program. If they’re interested in working with us, we can support their objectives, and they can provide us with support and structure to generate interest and build a stronger Chapter.


If we are unable to directly align ourselves with the hospital system, we will continue to pursue opportunities indirectly. As students find interest in projects, we will work with them individually on executing those projects. We will plan events (e.g., speakers, discussions, and activities) to help generate interest in the Open School. Going this route will likely make it harder to accumulate numbers in the short term; however, we feel that with time we will be able to demonstrate our value independently, and that interest and participation in our Chapter will continue to grow. 

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