From quality assurance to total quality management: how can quality assurance result in continuous improvement in health professions education?

Educ Health (Abingdon). 2003 Jul;16(2):210-7. doi: 10.1080/1357628031000116899.


Context: Quality assurance is a hot topic in many institutes for higher education. Quality assurance is a cyclic process, consisting of three steps: measuring, judging and improving. Many institutes in higher education collect data about the quality of their educational programme on a regular basis and with proper frequency, but these evaluative data are not always used to improve the quality of the programme.

Purpose: The aim of this article is to demonstrate which conditions need to be fulfilled to ensure that quality assurance is a cyclic process resulting in continuous improvement.

Conclusions: Quality assurance can only be successful, i.e. result in continuous improvement, if three conditions are met: the evaluation activities are carried out in (1). a systematic and (2). structural fashion and (3). are integrated in the organization's regular work patterns. Parts of the system for quality assurance at the Maastricht Medical School are presented to demonstrate how the three conditions can be realized in practice.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration
  • Schools, Medical / standards
  • Total Quality Management*