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October 11, 2017

Training program enhances resident physicians’ quality improvement skills

Resident physician Dr. Yifan Wang wants to incorporate quality improvement into his medical practice and make changes to improve patient satisfaction, outcomes, and safety.

As a result, he is enrolled in the Resident Quality Improvement Program (RQIP), which is delivered in partnership by the Health Quality Council (HQC) and the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) office.

The aim of RQIP is to introduce resident physicians in Saskatchewan to the foundational elements of quality improvement methodology and to help them see opportunities for making changes in their practices that will result in more timely and safer patient care.

“Quality improvement is an important aspect of medical practice,” said Wang, a resident physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“Participating in this program will hopefully give a foundation to our quality improvement knowledge as well as fulfilling our Royal College (of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada) requirements for training,” he added.

RQIP includes a mix of online modules and interactive learning sessions. While the program is structured to be completed during a 12-month period, there is an opportunity to flex the schedule according to participant needs.

Currently, there are 122 RQIP participants; while the majority of those enrolled are resident physicians, there are also some faculty participating who are learning to facilitate the program. Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, and Surgical Services are currently taking part, and there are plans to connect with other specialties in order to support all physician groups in the future, said Angie Palen, a Provincial Improvement Consultant at HQC who coordinates RQIP.

“Physicians are key stakeholders in improvement. In a complex health system that is often over capacity, physicians historically haven’t had many opportunities to reflect and engage in improvement activity. RQIP is helping to change that,” she said.

As part of the program, participants are expected to complete a small-scope personal improvement project – focused on something that is within the individual’s sphere of influence – and are then encouraged to participate in a department or system project to learn how quality improvement methodology can be applied on a larger scale. There are no prerequisites required to enroll in RQIP, and residents are not expected to lead the department or system project.

Palen said RQIP can serve as a good primer for a sister course called the Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP), which delves more deeply into the concepts and tools of quality improvement. With CQIP, physicians are expected to lead and complete a department or system-related quality improvement project during the one-year program.

“Both RQIP and CQIP are intended to build skill and knowledge for physicians to actively embed improvement work into their practice,” said Palen.

“In both programs we encourage and help facilitate collaboration with other clinicians, operational leaders and staff who assist with communication, moving improvement initiatives forward, and sustaining the gains.”