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CQuIPS welcomes five new faculty members

CQuIPS is thrilled to welcome five new members to our EQUIP, Certificate Course and Co-Learning program faculty. As Canada’s leading quality improvement and patient safety training centre, CQuIPS made a commitment in our 2020-24 strategic plan to expand our faculty to include individuals from new and diverse fields of expertise. Our new faculty include three physicians, a speech-language pathologist and an occupational therapist who work in varied clinical settings spanning acute and long-term care. They bring with them years of experience leading QI and patient safety initiatives and inspiring others to think critically about how to engage meaningfully in improvement work.

“Our goal is to build QI capacity in our healthcare system and these five new faculty members are already doing that in their own organizations,” said Brian Wong, CQuIPS director. “We are excited to have them teach the next generation of learners, especially because they bring unique perspectives of how QI can be integrated into every area of healthcare from paediatrics to mental health to surgical oncology. Everyone has the power to incorporate QI into their own work and the more people who do that, the bigger the impact we will see throughout the entire system.”

A special welcome and congratulations to our new faculty members.

Certificate course faculty
Jenn Wong, professional leader for speech language pathology, Sunnybrook
Jenn Wong was introduced to QI through CQuIPS’ certificate course and that was it.

“It might sound a bit trite but it was life-changing,” she said. “It really changed the trajectory of where my professional life has gone. It opened up a lot of doors for me in terms of expanding my skillset, changing the way I think and giving more structure to some of the ideas, thoughts and goals I had.”

Now the professional leader for speech-language pathology (SLP) at Sunnybrook, Wong uses QI in everything from her work as a leader, to the fellowship she’s completing with CQuIPS, to building QI capacity in her SLP team. The next step, she says, is to pay it forward as a faculty member for the very certificate course that first got her hooked on QI.

“There’s a lot of capacity for interprofessional work in QI and we have a role to play there,” she said. “Sometimes when I talk to colleagues who are primarily clinical in background, they think they’re not smart enough or don’t have the mind to work in QI. I want to help people understand that QI is not an intelligence thing – it’s something you can develop skills for. So I see this as scaffolding for people and being able to meet them where they’re at and push them to the next level.”

Mostly, Wong said she’s looking forward to spending more time in the CQuIPS community.

“I’ve never been able to replicate the feeling that CQuIPS has – even though everyone has such a wealth of knowledge and expertise, they are continually helping build you up and motivate you. Joining the faculty is an exercise in creating joy in my work life because this program is so rewarding.”

Nicole Thomson, Senior Director of Quality, Innovation, Patient Safety and Experience, CAMH
When you think about quality improvement and patient safety, the area of mental health and additions may not immediately come to mind. Through her role as certificate course faculty member, Nicole Thomson wants to change that.

“As an academic discipline, quality and safety in healthcare are predominantly focused on physical health, and yet the principles of QIPS are equally as relevant in mental health and addictions,” the occupational therapist by background said. “For me, I also bring a rehabilitation perspective while considering quality improvement and patient safety in mental health research and practice.”

Two years ago, Thomson was instrumental in arranging a CQuIPS-led workshop at CAMH to help build QI capacity among staff. She has continued her goal to incorporate more QI in the organization through her work as senior director overseeing quality, patient safety and patient/family experience, where QI is embedded in her daily work.

Now she wants to help drive system-level improvements.

“It’s no longer appropriate for leadership teams to decide what the improvement ideas are and push those down; I think we’re at a point in time where we need grassroots improvements ideas informed by patients, families and clinicians who are empowered to lead those projects.”

She sees the CQuIPS certificate course as one method for making that change.

“The program is not just about engaging people in the quality improvement process – it’s about giving them the tools and confidence they need to support and lead QI initiatives,” she said. “If we want to see system-level improvement, we need all hands on deck.”

EQUIP faculty
Bourne Auguste, staff nephrologist, Sunnybrook
Bourne Auguste perpetually has a quote stuck in his head from IHI Senior Fellow Paul Batalden: “In healthcare everyone has two jobs: to do your work and to improve it.” This is a fundamental belief Auguste holds.

“Everyone should have some baseline experience as it relates to QI because we need to make sure our patients are receiving the most efficient, safest care – it has to address all six domains within quality,” he said. “Basic exposure and understanding of QI principles will go a long way in advancing the quality of care in our heath system.”

As a nephrologist at Sunnybrook, Auguste has been supporting the expansion of home dialysis. He said as a relatively new type of therapy, there are “tons of opportunities” for streamlining and improving the program. Auguste has specifically been focusing on bringing equity into the picture.

“COVID has highlighted a lot of disparities that exist in terms of the care offered to patients, particularly in the virtual realm setting. I’m focused on ways where we can enhance education around equity and create a more efficient system by reducing marginalization in different parts of the population,” he said. “The equity lens is one area I will lend my experience to as a member of the CQuIPS faculty.”

As a former graduate of CQuIPS’ certificate course, Auguste said he’s looking forward to joining the EQUIP team.

“I’m humbled and grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “I believe in lifelong learning and even though I’m joining on to help teach others, I know I’ll also learn a lot from more seasoned faculty so I see this as a significant symbiotic relationship.”

Genevieve Bouchard-Fortier, gynecologic oncologist, UHN and Sinai Health System
In 2016, Genevieve Bouchard-Fortier had just joined a new team. Having known about the importance of QI from her time a few years prior at the Harvard School of Public Health, she started looking for more ways to integrate it into her surgical work and realized few people on her team had experience in the area. So she signed up for CQUIPS’ certificate course.

“Having that certificate gave me the tools to be more useful to the organization and led me to get involved in the QI leadership in OB-GYN and within the surgical department,” she said. “It is extremely valuable to understand the theory behind improvement sciences and to meet mentors in QI.”

As she joins the EQUIP faculty, Bouchard-Fortier is excited to share what she’s learned with the next generation of surgical leaders. Her areas of focus are integrating QI into surgical practice and perioperative care and using data to better understand patterns of care and opportunities for change.

“This is so important because there’s no question that when you ask a patient what really matters to them, it’s having the best outcome and being safe – no matter their diagnosis,” she said. “And for healthcare providers, it’s much easier and less stressful for physicians to work in a system that has a strong QIPS platform because no one wants to make mistakes – we all want to optimize care for our patients.”

Co-learning faculty
Beth Gamulka, hospital-based paediatrician, SickKids and North York General Hospital
Twenty years ago, Beth Gamulka chaired a quality management committee – with no formal quality training.

“I was doing QI without knowing how to do it,” she said. “We had the same goal of reducing errors but we weren’t working as methodically and effectively as we would today. We were just kind of winging it.”

Almost 20 years later, Gamulka completed CQuIPS’ Co-Learning Curriculum which not only made her confident for the first time in her QI skills, it also sparked a passion for improvement. She’s since worked her way through the EQUIP program, become one of CQuIPS’ inaugural fellows, is now part of the Co-Learning faculty and is set to become an associate director for the program.

“My gateway drug was the co-learning course,” she said. “I fell in love with it – it spurred me on to do more.”

Now as faculty for the program that impacted her in such a significant way, Gamulka said she sees an opportunity to have the same type of impact throughout the healthcare system by teaching more people QI early in their careers.

“The co-learning program is the biggest bang for your buck because you get to expose a huge swath of trainees and fellows to QI work,” she said. “Right now, physicians are expected to do QI work on their own and if you don’t know the how and why, you’re never going to do it effectively – that’s why these types of programs are so important.”

Gamulka is actively trying to get new divisions into the program, incorporate more community-based organizations in QI work and help more people understand that QI is accessible to everyone.

“QI is easy to understand and can be hard to do,” she said, “but you don’t need to know anything complicated – you just need to know your patients and your problem.”

Virtual posters now live on CQUIPS+

Every day, members of the CQuIPS community are working on quality improvement and patient safety initiatives to improve healthcare for both patients and providers. Earlier this year, we put a call out for abstracts for our first ever virtual poster presentation on CQUIPS+. With more than 50 incredible abstracts accepted, we are thrilled to share the first phase of posters, all amazing examples of QI research and scholarship. Please take a look and – if you’re a CQUIPS+ member – share your thoughts by adding comments!

Acute care

Ambulatory care

Diagnostic testing

Emergency medicine

Geriatrics

Long-term care

Mental health

OB-GYN

Oncology

Palliative care

Perioperative care

Primary care

Rehabilitation

Amber Daugherty is C-QuIPS’ new Communications Specialist

Amber Daugherty believes quality improvement is underrated.

“Most people who go to the hospital have no concept of the incredible amount of work happening behind the scenes,” she said. “Every step of a patient’s journey has been thought out – and it’s continuously being modified; healthcare providers are always thinking critically about how to keep everyone safer and make care more efficient so patients can get home sooner.”

Daugherty’s appreciation for quality improvement came from her role as Senior Communications Advisor, Quality at Unity Health Toronto. Working with everyone from frontline healthcare providers to vice presidents, she saw firsthand – and wrote about – the number of initiatives being trialed and implemented, from new safety reporting systems, to programs designed to reduce patient falls, to LEAN exercises in emergency departments.

That’s why she was so excited to take on a new role as Communications Specialist with the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS).

“Amber joined our team in the midst of a global pandemic and was immediately tasked with overseeing the communication of our Centre’s renewed strategic vision and plan.” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS Director. “She brings an energy and expertise to our team that allows us to grow our community and elevates our ability at C-QuIPS to broadly share what we learn.”

Before working at Unity Health Toronto, Daugherty was in the journalism world, working as a reporter and editor for the Globe and Mail and a chase produce for CTV News Channel.

“I love telling stories about the people behind initiatives,” she said. “From the nurse who reports an unsafe practice they notice so it can be changed, to the simulation team who runs a scenario 20 times to figure out how they can deliver urgent care just a few seconds faster, there are endless examples of the significant impact healthcare providers have every day.”

In her role at C-QuIPS, Daugherty is focusing on both highlighting the people at the centre of QIPS work, and sharing the research and findings about best practices in the field that can be adapted by other organizations.

As she gets started, Daugherty has an ask of the QIPS community.

Send me your story ideas. Let me know the exciting projects, research and ideas you have so C-QuIPS can amplify your work,” she said. “Healthcare gets better and safer every day because of professionals who care deeply about making the system more equitable, better and safer – so let us recognize your efforts and help share them.”

Equipping clinicians for academic success in quality improvement

Any clinician can tell you that a knowledge of basic quality improvement (QI) principles does not guarantee successful QI projects; many QI attempts result in learnings rather than lasting change. Graduates of the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS) Excellence in Quality Improvement Certificate Program (EQUIP), however, will tell you that the year-long mentorship and education program will significantly increase the likelihood of those projects succeeding – and results being published.

“In the program, we learned how to write a good QI paper, what QI editors are looking for and how to structure a project so it can be written about and shared,” said Dr. Anne Smeraglio, a 2020 EQUIP graduate and hospitalist at the Portland Oregon VA Health Care System. “And since graduating, those lessons have helped me get published.”

Knowledge gained in the program also helped Dr. Smeraglio advance to more senior roles – she’s now the Director of Quality Improvement in the Oregon Health & Science University’s internal medicine residency program​ and was invited to teach as part of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Program Director Patient Safety and Quality (PDPQ) Educators Network.

Dr. Smeraglio is not unique in this sense – many of the program’s more than 60 graduates to date from all across North America have found success in leading, teaching and publishing their QI work. Dr. Adina Weinerman, now one of EQUIP’s core faculty members, was in the program’s first cohort and said the program has had a significant impact on her career.

“EQUIP strengthened my quality improvement knowledge and made me more confident to lead and mentor quality improvement projects in an academic environment,” she said. “As a direct result of EQUIP, I am now the Medical Director, Quality and Patient Safety at my academic institution, and couldn’t be happier.”

EQUIP is delivered through six full days of virtual training (July 7-9, 2021 and May 9-11, 2022) and monthly webinars between. Over the course of the program, learners benefit from one-on-one coaching and mentorship from EQUIP faculty who are internationally recognized QI clinicians and experts. In addition to track records successfully executing QI projects in academic settings, faculty members have published their work in high-impact journals such as JAMA Internal Medicine¸ Academic Medicine and BMJ Quality & Safety.

“EQUIP is meant to provide a deeper dive into QI methodologies and help clinicians take their QI skills to the next level,” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS Director and EQUIP Co-Director along with Dr. Kaveh Shojania. “We’ve been amazed in every cohort at the calibre of our learners – they all bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm for QI and we know they make an impact in the QI field after they leave.”

Dr. Benjamin Leis, a newly-appointed staff physician and assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, was a cardiology trainee when he took the EQUIP course.

“Through EQUIP, I was taught a systematic approach to quality improvement which is invaluable and has already led to two publications in the last year and a half,” he said. “You are more likely to be successful in QI with the foundations taught in the EQUIP program. You will also meet wonderful people and mentors who will share your enthusiasm and be very useful professional connections for the rest of your career.”

Spots are open for the program’s fifth cohort. Learn more and apply here.

Dr. Patricia Trbovich joins C-QuIPS as Research and Scholarship Lead

Patricia Trbovich has no interest in going backwards after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a quality improvement and patient safety community, we have a societal responsibility to craft what a ‘new normal’ will look like,” she said. “We don’t want to go back to the old normal which was to normalize inequity, exhaustion and burnout.”

Dr. Trbovich is uniquely positioned to help create a better system – with a background in cognitive psychology, her career has focused on understanding the motives behind people’s actions. Partnered with her research experience – including as current Badeau Family Research Chair in Patient Safety and Quality Improvement at North York General Hospital – she is able to make recommendations about how systemic changes can better shape workflows and, ultimately, healthcare.

And now, through her new role as Research and Scholarship Lead with the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS), she will have a platform to help share best practices – across professions, provinces and countries.

“I really focus on the word ‘across’ here because, as QIPS professionals, we do a lot of great work but sometimes it’s in silos,” she said. “I see one of my roles as ensuring there is cross learning and sharing and ensuring that we help people put the proper research lens on some of the great practical work they’re doing so they can bring it to the next level and we can either scale or spread the innovation if that’s the right thing to do.”

Dr. Trbovich’s path has crossed the Centre many times – in addition to formerly teaching in the C-QuIPS certificate course and VAQS program, she is an associate professor in the MSc Quality Improvement and Patient Safety program at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and has been mentored by senior Centre members Drs. Edward Etchells and Kaveh Shojania.

“Her history with C-QuIPS made her a perfect fit for this role,” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS director. “We’re excited to have her expertise on board. She is a pre-eminent researcher in our field and the incredible amount of knowledge she brings with her in human factors and QIPS research will benefit everyone in the QIPS community.”

One of Dr. Trbovich’s first priorities will be to focus on C-QuIPS’ two key themes: health equity and health system resilience – and specifically how they connect.

“If you’re able to improve health equity and diversity, then you will in turn build a more resilient health care system – I see them as two sides of the same coin,” she said. “These two themes aren’t topics du jour that we’re going to work on for two years and then let them go and move on to something else; I see these as important areas of priority we have to include in the way we do our research so it just becomes part of our work.”

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