Not everyone speaks the language of quality improvement (QI). This can make it difficult for people committed to QI work to find the mentorship needed to advance this work and pursue an improvement agenda in their organization. The Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (CQuIPS), whose purpose is to support and connect those working in QI, created a fellowship for exactly this reason: to bring people together with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare practices and outcomes.
“Although an individual might have formal training in QI, moving that knowledge into practice can be challenging,” said Joanne Goldman, CQuIPS scientist and Fellowship Director. “The CQuIPS Fellowship was established out of our goal to create a community for those who have been trained in QI and have dedicated time to do QI at their institutions, but are looking for continued learning and networking to strengthen their QI activities. The connections among and between the Fellows and CQuIPS have the possibility to lead to incredible results at organizations and the spread of impactful projects across our healthcare system.”
The Fellowship, now recruiting its next cohort for 2022-23, provides a myriad of resources for participants: a monthly learning session, an experienced QI mentor Fellows connect with regularly one-on-one, discussions and feedback on QI projects and opportunities to get involved at CQuIPS.
Jennifer Wong, a speech-language pathologist at Sunnybrook and one of the inaugural Fellows, said the connection with other fellows has been particularly rewarding.
“It’s amazing being part of a community of people who have a similar mindset about improvement and safety and who speak the same language,” she said. “It’s felt like all of our interactions – both with other Fellows and the facilitators – have come from a genuine place of connection and that’s been really meaningful to me.”
For Sam Vaillancourt, emergency physician and director of quality improvement for the emergency department at St. Michael’s, Unity Health Toronto and another inaugural Fellow, the education opportunity – from CQuIPS and his peer Fellows – has been a highlight.
“Even though I’m a little bit later in my career, I thought this might be interesting to go back to learning which, as you get further away from residency and everything, sometimes it can feel like the space for learning is gone,” he said. “A lot of people in our cohort have a fair bit of experience and have shared applied tips, difficulties and rewards. There’s a depth of engagement that I was hoping for and that turned out to be there which is really great.”
During their Fellowship, Wong and Vaillancourt have regularly shared updates on their projects with the other Fellows and their mentors. Wong’s main focus during the Fellowship has been on implementing a peer-to-peer vaccine champion program to support increased staff COVID vaccination rates at Sunnybrook.
“It’s been really helpful bouncing ideas off of Amanda,” she said of her mentor, Dr. Amanda Mayo, CQuIPS associate director for Sunnybrook. “And getting feedback from the other Fellows has been great too because we’re such a diverse group with different clinical and training backgrounds so that breeds opportunities for seeing things in new ways.”
Vaillancourt was paired with Patricia Trbovich, CQuIPS research and scholarship lead, who has supported him through his work on a patient-reported outcome measure questionnaire for patients leaving the emergency department.
“My mentor is quite exceptional,” he said. “It’s been really great to have some time with her every month and be able to share experiences, stories and difficulties as I’ve worked through this project.”
Fellows have had a significant role at CQuIPS: they supported the design, creation and launch of the virtual learning platform CQUIPS+ that now has almost 300 members; they’ve taken on leadership and teaching roles with our education programs; and they’ve collaborated with CQuIPS and its external partners including Choosing Wisely Canada and Canadian Blood Services.
“We’ve benefited from having these Fellows as part of the CQuIPS team just as much as they’ve benefited from being part of the Fellow group,” said Goldman. “We had such an incredible group for our first cohort – they’ve helped co-create this Fellowship to help make it the best possible experience for all future Fellows.”
Want to be a CQuIPS fellow? We are accepting applications for our second cohort until March 21 – learn more about eligibility and how to apply.