Integrating Quality Improvement into the Oklahoma State University Rural Medical Track Curriculum
Background. Physician residency program accreditation requires, among other components, engaging trainees in didactic and experiential education in health care quality improvement (QI). Medical school graduates who possess these skills will be more attractive to residency programs, making it imperative to integrate QI into the undergraduate medical education curriculum.
Methods. The Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health (OSU-CRH), in collaboration with the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, piloted QI training for Rural Medical Track students during the 2018-19 academic year. Training consisted of 1) an online summer elective course using Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School modules and 2) an applied experience designing a QI project during rotation at a rural community-based clinic with mentoring from OSU-CRH researchers. Six students participated in either the summer didactic course or the clinic-based QI design process.
Results. Students planned a variety of projects in collaboration with rotation sites. For each site, projects stemmed from needs clinics had previously identified but never pursued for lack of training and resources. Scores on an IHI assessment of QI knowledge increased considerably over baseline for all students. Results from this first year of QI training are promising. Students indicated they had never been exposed to health care QI before the training and appreciated opportunities to apply QI knowledge to designing an improvement project.
Conclusion. The combination of IHI modules, free for health professionals and students, and mentoring during an applied experience represents an effective and inexpensive approach to integrating QI into the undergraduate medical curriculum.
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