Teaching quality improvement: a collaboration project between medicine and engineering

Am J Med Qual. 2008 Jul-Aug;23(4):296-301. doi: 10.1177/1062860608317764.


Systems failures and their impact on quality and cost have fueled the need for a paradigm shift in medical education. Despite a growing interest in health care quality improvement (QI), few physician educators possess the necessary expertise in either systems engineering or QI. In this article, we describe a novel teaching partnership between engineers and physicians in implementing a 3-week elective QI training curriculum on health care QI. Nine learners, 2 preventive medicine and 7 endocrinology fellows, participated in this rotation. Key concepts taught by the 4 engineering faculty include stake-holder analysis, root cause analysis, process mapping, failure mode and effects analysis, resource management, negotiation, and leadership. Learner scores on the QI knowledge application tool improved significantly (P < .004) from 7.33 prerotation to 11.89 postrotation. Further research is necessary to study the effectiveness, efficacy, and scope of using engineering expertise in QI education initiatives.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Program Development
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Total Quality Management