HiQuiPs: Engaging Residents in QIPS – Current and Future Perspectives

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Welcome to this HiQuiPs post on Quality Improvement in Residency Education where we will review the current status of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (QIPS) education in postgraduate medical education and strategies to effectively engage trainees in QIPS.


In 2015, the updated CanMEDs framework broadened accreditation standards for residency programs across Canada.​1​ As part of the CanMEDS roles, competencies in QIPS methodologies have been highlighted in each of the six domains, and residency programs are required to integrate QIPS training into their curricula. Globally, incorporating QIPS competencies into residency training has been emphasized within the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the General Medicine Council in the United Kingdom.​2,3​

Why is this Important?

Residency education is an important stakeholder in the QIPS realm for two reasons. First, residents are often the first point of contact for patient admissions, transfers, discharges, and handovers where safety issues are prone to occur.​4​ Second, residents are potential agents for change that will carry forward QIPS-focused practices into their careers.​4,5​

The Challenge

A 2020 national survey of both Royal College and Family Medicine (FM-EM) stream Emergency Medicine residents across Canada illustrated that while trainees reported a strong interest in QIPS curricula, only a third of Royal College and FM-EM programs incorporate formal QIPS teaching into their programs.​6​ Specific barriers to QIPS engagement reported by residents included confusion regarding how QIPS could be practically translated into their clinical work and accessibility to opportunities and faculty with QIPS expertise.​6​ These findings were consistent with surveys conducted in the United Kingdom and the United States, which also demonstrated that participation in a formalized curriculum enhances resident interest in participating in QIPS initiatives.​7–10​ From a program standpoint, faculty surveys have identified barriers to QIPS curricula implementation that include limited access to faculty with QIPS expertise and resources to sustain a formal curriculum in the long-term.​11–14​

Which Way is the Best Way?

Currently, there is no consensus. QIPS curricula have included didactic lectures, web-based modules, individual projects, and case scenarios with reflective components.​15​ At present, there are no studies that illustrate a direct comparison between methods of QIPS curriculum delivery.​15​

What can educators do? A couple review articles have shed some light on this topic.​15,16​ When facilitating a QIPS curricula in the context of postgraduate education, there are some key considerations to keep in mind:

1. Facilitate Lifelong Learning

Within Competence by Design (CBD), residency training is no longer viewed as a finite period of time, but a series of transitions. The majority of QIPS curricula have focused on short-term evaluations, which limits trainees from revisiting and continuing to build QIPS competencies as they move towards transitioning to practice.​15​ Potential solutions to this issue have included implementing a QIPS curriculum through longitudinal outpatient clinics or inpatient blocks that trainees return to throughout their residency.(17-20) Through these placements, residents form interprofessional teams that participate in the evaluation and reporting of various programs and outcome measures. The overall response from trainees has been positive, and residents reported an enhanced interest in QIPS participation.​17–20​ Given that residents struggle to practically link QIPS teaching to their clinical work environments, longitudinal curricula may foster better engagement and practical experience in QIPS leadership.

2. Shape the Experience: Immersive Learning

Linking residents with QIPS and clinical work requires experiential learning. In order to be effective, experiential learning within a QIPS curriculum should be framed in educational theory.​15,21​ A strong example is Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, which has been cited as a framework for best practices in experiential education.​15,22​ Through Kolb’s theory, an experiential curriculum proceeds through a series of stages that starts with an introductory experience. This could be in the form of a simulation, role-play scenario, longitudinal rotation, or case-based project.​15,22​ From this experience, learners take part in active reflection, discussion, and reinforcement of key concepts to apply to their future environments (Figure 1).​15,22​ It has been suggested that providing residents with hands-on experience could provide a more engaging, effective modality of QIPS training in comparison to didactic teaching.​15,16​

Figure 1 – Kolbs Experiential Learning Theory]

3. Evaluate: Use the QI-KAT

In keeping with the myriad of QIPS curricula, there is wide variation in assessment methods. Many curricula have adopted resident evaluations that utilize a Kirkpatrick framework, which seeks to evaluate learner reactions, satisfaction, knowledge acquisition, and behavioral changes.​15,23​ The challenge with this approach is that when used alone, the depth of the Kirkpatrick evaluation (i.e., individual-level changes vs. organizational changes) and question styles across survey questions have varied.​15,24,25​ The use of an objective, validated assessment tool such as the Quality Improvement Knowledge Application Tool (QI-KAT) could offer a more robust, uniform analysis, quantifying competency over time and across cohorts or programs.​26​ QI-KAT is an open-access educational resource that provides trainees with a patient case scenario and question prompts that are graded with a rubric. Given the variation in QIPS curricula assessments, the QI-KAT has potential as an adjunct to curricula evaluations (i.e., Kirkpatrick evaluation) and future academic work in QIPS teaching.​15,26​


QIPS in residency education comes with its own set of challenges, and there is a growing need to think critically about the way QIPS education is taught. Residents have an interest in learning QIPS methodologies, and residency programs will need to adapt and implement curricula that will foster and support key competency development.

Key Take-Home Points:

  1. Facilitate Lifelong Learning: Residents fd the opportunity to revisit QIPS opportunities at each stage of their training.
  2. Shape the Experience: Framing QIPSxperiences within Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory facilitates an experiential curriculum to better engage trainees.
  3. Evaluate: Adjuncts, such as the QI-KAT, are validated tools that can be used to strengthen curriculum evaluation.
Figure 2: Summary of Strategies

Senior Editor: Ahmed Taher

Copyedited by Fadi Bahodi and Farzan Ansari


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Fadi Bahodi

Fadi is a second-year medical student at McMaster University. His interests are in health innovation quality improvement and digital health.
Taryn Lloyd

Taryn Lloyd

Taryn Lloyd is an emergency physician, and Addiction Medicine physician at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is a co-lead for the Equity, Diversity and Cultural Safety Curriculum at U of T Emergency Medicine Program.

Justin Hall

Dr. Justin Hall is an Emergency Physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and faculty member at the University of Toronto. He is a member of Ontario Health’s Virtual Urgent Care Provincial Evaluation Steering Committee. His scholarly interests include virtual care, technological innovation, resource stewardship, leadership training, and quality improvement.
Mankeeran Dhanoa

Mankeeran Dhanoa

Mankeeran Dhanoa

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