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Designing Education to Improve Care

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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.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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