Partnering with healthcare organisations to teach pre-registration health professions students about quality improvement: A systematic review

J Clin Nurs. 2022 Jul 3. doi: 10.1111/jocn.16426. Online ahead of print.


Aims and objectives: To describe what higher education and healthcare organisation partnerships can be identified in the published literature to teach pre-registration health professions students quality improvement and the impact of these partnerships.

Background: Quality improvement has been gaining traction in the Western world and has been incorporated in varying degrees into the curricula for pre-registration health professions students. Providing quality improvement education in partnership with healthcare organisations has been found to be a valuable experiential learning solution, but the impacts of higher education and healthcare organisation partnerships have not been explored.

Design and methods: Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, a systematic review was undertaken using the Ovid MEDLINE, Emcare, CINAHL, Scopus and Eric databases. Studies were subject to quality appraisal using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program validated tools and a thematic analysis and narrative synthesis was undertaken.

Results: Eight studies were included in this review. Features of existing quality improvement partnerships included experiential learning, time pressures and barriers to successful quality improvement partnerships. The impacts of quality improvement partnerships were demonstrated by an increase in quality improvement knowledge and understanding, students leading change and the implementation of quality improvement projects.

Conclusion: Several key elements were identified that may act as barriers or enablers to successful implementation of quality improvement partnerships. This review advances understandings of the need for a shift in focus that pays attention to the culture of teaching quality improvement in education partnerships and how this can be achieved in a mutually beneficial way.

Relevance to clinical practice: The development of quality improvement partnerships has been found to increase student knowledge and understanding, potentially improving patient outcomes, systems performance and professional development. More research is required on the establishment of quality improvement partnerships and the benefit these collaborations have on students, staff and patients.

Keywords: health occupations students; partnership; professional education; quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Review