Developing Leaders and Scholars in Health Care Improvement: The VA Quality Scholars Program Competencies

Acad Med. 2021 Jan 1;96(1):68-74. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003658.


Despite the need for leaders in health care improvement across health professions, there are no standards for the knowledge and skills that should be achieved through advanced interprofessional health care improvement training. Existing health care improvement training competencies focus on foundational knowledge expected of all trainees or for specific career pathways. Health care improvement leaders fill multiple roles within organizations and promote interprofessional improvement practice. The diverse skill set required of modern health care improvement leaders necessitates the development of training competencies specifically for fellowships in applied health care improvement. The authors describe the development of the revised national Veterans Affairs Quality Scholars (VAQS) Program competencies. The VAQS Program is an interprofessional, postdoctoral training program whose mission is to develop leaders and scholars to improve health care. An interprofessional committee of VAQS faculty reviewed and revised the competencies over 4 months beginning in fall 2018. The first draft was developed using 111 competencies submitted by 11 VAQS training sites and a review of published competencies. The final version included 22 competencies spanning 5 domains: interprofessional collaboration and teamwork, improvement and implementation science, organization and system leadership, methodological skills and analytic techniques for improvement and research, and teaching and coaching. Once attained, the VAQS competencies will guide the skill development that interprofessional health care improvement leaders need to participate in and lead health care improvement scholarship and implementation. These broad competencies are relevant to advanced training programs that develop health care improvement leaders and scholars and may be used by employers to understand the knowledge and skills expected of individuals who complete advanced fellowships in applied health care improvement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / standards*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Quality Improvement / standards*
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs