Efficacy of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Workshops for Students: A Pilot Study

BMC Med Educ. 2020 Apr 23;20(1):126. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-1982-3.


Background: While the Association of American Medical Colleges encourages medical schools to incorporate quality improvement and patient safety (QI/PS) into their curriculum, medical students continue to have limited QI/PS exposure. To prepare medical students for careers that involve QI/PS, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement chapter at an allopathic medical school and school of allied health professions initiated self-directed learning by offering student-led workshops to equip learners with skills to improve the quality and safety of healthcare processes.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, workshops were hosted for medical students between 2015 and 2018 on five QI/PS topics: Process Mapping, Root-Cause Analysis (RCA), Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycles, Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), and Patient Handoffs. Each workshop included a hands-on component to engage learners in practical applications of QI/PS skills in their careers. Change in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors was assessed via pre- and post-surveys using 5-point Likert scales, and analyzed using either the McNemar test or non-parametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Surveys also gathered qualitative feedback regarding strengths, future areas for improvement, and reasons for attending the workshops.

Results: Data was collected from 88.5% of learners (n = 185/209); 19.5% of learners reported prior formal instruction in these topics. Statistically significant improvements in learners' confidence were observed for each workshop. Additionally, after attending workshops, learners felt comfortable teaching the learned QI/PS skill to colleagues (mean pre/post difference 1.96, p < 0.0001, n = 139) and were more likely to pursue QI/PS projects in their careers (mean pre/post difference 0.45, p < 0.0001, n = 139). Lastly, learners demonstrated a statistically significant increase in knowledge in four out of five skills workshop topics.

Conclusion: Few medical students have formal instruction in QI/PS tools. This pilot study highlights advantages of incorporating an innovative, student-directed modified 'flipped classroom' methodology, with a focus on active experiential learning and minimal didactic instruction.

Keywords: Curriculum; Experiential learning; Hands-on; Health professions students; Medical education; Medical students; Patient safety; Peer-to-peer teaching; Quality improvement; Student-led; Workshops.