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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.”

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