A fourth-year medical school rotation in quality, patient safety, and population medicine

Am J Prev Med. 2011 Oct;41(4 Suppl 3):S200-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.06.011.


Background: Quality improvement and population medicine are skills that are increasingly important for physicians to possess. Methods to achieve foundational acquisition of these skills in medical school have not been well described in the past.

Purpose: The primary goal of this project is to provide hands-on, experiential learning in full-cycle population-based care.

Methods: A description is given of a 4-week, team-based, rapid-cycle quality improvement project embedded in a required fourth-year medical school rotation. Over the course of 4 years a nonspecialty generic Ambulatory Care rotation was converted to a population-based learning rotation. For the last 3 years this rotation has required students to participate in teams of three to four students to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate a quality improvement project.

Results: Between 2008 and 2010 a total of 510 students completed the rotation. During this time the project component of the rotation received a 53% average rating of "excellent" or "above average." Qualitative evaluation indicates the project to be an acceptable and worthwhile educational experience for medical students, adding new insights and occasionally career-changing perspectives.

Conclusions: Although experiential team-based quality improvement projects are a new format for learning in the medical school environment, it can be implemented in a format that is acceptable and beneficial to future physicians and healthcare systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Safety*
  • Public Health / education*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Students, Medical*