Background: Educators in all health care disciplines are increasingly aware of the importance and value of teaching improvement as an integral part of health professional development. Although faculty and learners can often identify needed changes in the clinical setting, many educators are not sure how to teach the improvement principles and methods needed to achieve and sustain those changes.
Defining and developing competency in qi: Five developmental levels apply to physicians, nurses, and other members of an interprofessional quality improvement (QI) team: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. For example, the expert develops a vast repertoire of skills and a capacity for situational discrimination, performs tasks on a more intuitive level, and recognizes and immediately addresses essential problems. Improvement is an action, and learning about improvement must be action based. Certain skills and knowledge are required at each stage in this learning process so that students in the health professions achieve competence in QI before entering practice.
General principles for educational experiences in health care improvement: Four principles, which apply at any developmental level, can help answer educators' questions about where to start: (1) The Learning Experience Should Be a Combination of Didactic and Project-Based Work; (2) Link with Health System Improvement Efforts; (3) Assess Education Outcomes; and (4) Role Model QI in Educational Processes.
Conclusion: As educators teach future health professionals about improving care, the dissemination of exemplary models and emerging best practices will be increasingly important. Sustainability of improvements in patient outcomes will be dependent on both the value systems and skills of health professionals entering practice.