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Improving the future: a Masters module to embed Quality Improvement early in health and care careers

A Quality Improvement (QI) programme run by UCLPartners has inspired a GP to develop and run a module on QI as part of a Masters programme to train up new physician associates.

As QI gains momentum, it’s becoming more important that training for healthcare professionals includes QI methodology right from the start. This module, run at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), is a positive step in addressing the need to give quality improvement more prominence in health and science teaching.

Dr Mizan Hoque, a GP in East London and a lecturer at QMUL , took a lead role in a QI Collaborative run by UCLPartners in North Central and North East London in 2017. The Collaborative aimed to build the QI skills and knowledge of staff in GP practices, and promote a collaborative approach, encouraging shared learning and improvements to patient care. As part of the Collaborative, Mizan provided mentorship and support to local GPs and other staff involved in running vital QI projects, such as reducing numbers of patients with hypertension.

Inspired by his work at UCLPartners, Dr Hoque developed a ‘Healthcare Systems and Quality Improvement’ module for the Physicians Associates Masters programme at QMUL. The Masters is aimed at training life science graduates, nurses, allied health professionals and others to become ‘physicians associates’ who support doctors to diagnose and treat patients.

The QI module is taught over two years and has a focus on:

  • Understanding healthcare systems
  • The science of quality improvement
  • Human factors and change
  • Patient Safety
  • Measurement in QI

The module’s workshop sessions provide students with the opportunity to practice core QI approaches, and then all students embark on their own QI projects.
The knowledge and competencies the Masters’ students gain in QI will help them to shape a culture of improvement that they can take into the workplace. It also gives future healthcare staff the tools they need to turn their improvement ideas into reality with confidence.

Forty-five students have so far taken part in the module, and there have been some great QI projects as a result. These include:

  • Improving blood pressure outcomes in hypertensive patients
  • Reducing the blood sugar levels of pre-diabetic patients by an average of 5%
  • Improving the cervical screening uptake rates
  • Increasing the uptake of annual health checks for adults with learning disabilities

Dr Mizan Hoque said, “I hope that the experiences and skills students gain as a result of this module will enable them to embed the practice of continuous improvement throughout their careers. There has been good uptake for this module and feedback from students has been extremely positive.”