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Colleen's First QI Project, Part Two: Choosing a Faculty Mentor

By IHI Open School | Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Editor’s Note: Colleen McCormick, a fourth-year medical student from Wright State University in Ohio, is using the IHI Open School Quality Improvement Practicum to conduct her first quality improvement project.
Every Wednesday, for the next two months, Colleen will write a blog post about her progress as a student trying to make a change in the health care system. Read her first post here.

By Colleen McCormick, fourth-year medical student, Wright State University

Before I move forward with my project, I want to take a step back and tell you about finding a faculty mentor. Finding one, the team at IHI in Cambridge told me, is quite possibly the most important thing to do at the beginning of a quality improvement project.

Unfortunately, off the top of my head, I didn’t know any appropriate mentors, so I reached out to my classmates in our IHI Open School Chapter (“Boonshoft for Healthcare Improvement”).

We had started creating a local network of faculty and students through our Chapter, and a student reminded me of Dr. W, a director of clinical quality at a local hospital. She had worked previously with medical students, often including them in some of her system improvement projects. Also, Dr. W is very enthusiastic about medical student education and involvement in patient safety and QI, which is always a plus!

I emailed her and found a time to meet despite her busy schedule (she wears several hats in addition to her role in clinical quality). During our initial meeting, we walked through the QI Practicum handouts and started discussing possible projects. Because of my interest in protecting pediatric patients from unnecessary radiation exposure, she suggested I look at overuse of radiation tests (specifically CT scans) in the emergency department. Dr. W was able to quickly obtain a dataset of ED imaging spanning nine months, and we hoped to use that for the project.

The rest of that first afternoon, we discussed ways to analyze the data, possible PDSA cycles for the future, and what my goals were for the project.

After this initial conversation, we signed the teacher-learner agreement and went our separate ways with plans to meet and email again soon. I am sure most, if not all health profession communities, have energetic and dedicated faculty like Dr. W.

Who comes to the top of your mind?

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