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Macy Faculty Scholar Dr. Wendy Madigosky on Teaching Patient Safety and Quality Improvement

Denver, CO

Wendy Madigosky, MD, MSPH, of the University of Colorado discusses her work on teaching safety and quality.

Macy: Tell us about the patient safety and quality improvement curriculum you are developing as a Macy Faculty Scholar.
Madigosky: We have seven different health professions schools on the University’s Anschutz Medical Campus, each with its own curriculum that may or may not have a safety and quality component. My plan is to develop a longitudinal curriculum in safety and quality improvement for all of our health professions students.

I will start by bringing the different schools together to clarify what is already being taught around safety and quality, and delineate how we might collaboratively build upon what already exists. Take our nursing school, for example. It already has a robust quality/safety program that could inform the other schools. Nursing school faculty may also be able to help other schools think through some of the issues they grappled with when they created their curriculum.

Why are you taking this interprofessional approach?
Our health care system is extremely complicated; we need teamwork and collaboration to deliver high quality care. This is a shift in the clinical realm that also needs to happen in health professions education—we need to figure out how to not be as siloed in our educational framework.

All of the health professions care about quality and patient safety, so safety and quality lends itself to being taught via an interprofessional approach. I’m grateful to be at an institution that has made strong commitments to interprofessional education and has some early success bringing nursing, medicine and clinical entities together in quality improvement, as part of a Macy-funded project with IHI called Retooling for Quality and Safety.

What is the Anschutz campus already doing in interprofessional education and how could that help your efforts?
The campus was built with collaboration in mind: we have education buildings, not a nursing building or a medical building; our spaces promote students gathering across the health professions to discuss and work together on shared interests and shared curricula. We also have an interprofessional education program at Anschutz, called the REACH program, which is supported by the Macy Foundation.

My project will be another step along this road. I aim to demonstrate that, by bringing schools across the health professions together, we can come up with a common vision and shared health professions curriculum. That is important for us as a community.

What will be different about your curriculum?
Academic institutions don’t yet have robust ways to assess students’ work in quality and safety, so that will be an important component of my work. Our overall goal is to assure that our learners actually incorporate quality improvement into their practice and we hope to have a couple of touch points to gauge that. For example, there’s a tool, called the Quality Improvement Knowledge Application Tool (QIKAT), which was written for use with medical residents that we may adapt for our undergraduate programs.

What draws you to this work?
Health professionals have an important role in helping to fix our broken health care system. I firmly believe, as Dr. Paul Batalden at Dartmouth put it, that everyone in health care has two jobs when they come to work every day: to do their work and to improve their work. I’ve seen in my work that we can’t just stop at providing students with skills in safety and quality—we need to help them create a professional identify where they are constantly engaged in making things better; where it is integrated into their practice.

I also want to see learners contribute to system improvements. We have a nice example already on campus where nursing and medical students have contributed to safety initiatives at Children’s Hospital Colorado by gathering data and recognizing ways that certain practices could be changed and improved, and then bringing that information to the attention of leaders—it’s a win-win.

To learn more about the Scholar program, register now for the January 23 webinar.

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