Building and sustaining a culture of continuous quality improvement doesn’t happen by accident. It takes vision, resources and a commitment that starts with senior leaders and permeates every corner of an organization.>
At SMPH that commitment emanates from Dean Golden and his leadership team and is embodied in the school’s Quality Improvement and Steering Committee, charged since its inception in 2012 with providing oversight and coordination of quality improvement efforts and with nurturing the school-wide culture. An SMPH QI manager, Louisa Zelm, MBA, was appointed in 2015 and works closely with the Committee.
The committee is composed of senior leaders from all areas of the school and gathers input from students, staff members, and faculty across the school. The group’s work includes reviewing strategic plans, discussing student feedback, identifying areas of improvement and charging workgroups and the QI Manager with initiating QI projects. The standing committee’s work has come front and center during the LCME self-study process. The LCME requires medical schools to use continuous quality improvement methods to ensure compliance with the LCME standards and elements at all times and to continuously improve medical education and the academic environment at medical schools.
Though it functions mainly behind the scenes, the committee’s work is evident across SMPH. Among many projects it has inspired and supported is the renovation project known as the HSLC Enhancement Project to improve classrooms, study and relaxation space, Ebling Library, and administrative offices. Students are already benefitting from this effort to provide collaborative, flexible spaces and other resources to help them better manage their busy lives. On another front, since 2012 members of the committee have played a key role in the transformation to a new longitudinal, self-directed curriculum aimed at better preparing students for their residency and lifelong practice. Related medical education improvement projects to track compliance with LCME requirements, such as tracking grade submission and enforcing timelines, have made impressive strides. In addition, significant efforts are under way to enhance diversity and inclusion across the medical school and to bolster career development and wellness support for students.
The QI committee was also central to this year’s push to address student mistreatment, in particular by providing guidance for well-received changes to the process by which student mistreatment reports are resolved and how students report occurrences. The group also inspired a mandatory educational module on mistreatment that all faculty, staff, and students must complete.
With its interdisciplinary makeup and vast collective institutional knowledge, the committee has also helped to spread improvement ideas among units within SMPH. For example, a tool developed by the Department of Medicine to provide feedback to statewide faculty has sparked a proposal to create a similar system to provide centralized tracking for such feedback across all disciplines.