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VA Quality Scholars (VAQS)
Course Co-Directors:

Dr. Chaim Bell

Nely Amaral

Dr. Jessica Liu

Course Coordinator:
Method of Course Delivery:

In-person & videoconferencing

Session Details:

One day per week for individual & group assignments and individual QI project work.

Time Commitment:

Every Friday 1:00-3:00PM for group discussions & live teleconferencing.

Summer Institute:

TBA in Houston, TX

Course Locations:

UofT C-QuIPS – SickKids Site,
Suite 630, 525 University Ave, Toronto, ON

Tuition Fees:

$3500 (each year) + self-funding for travel and lodging at Summer Institute.

Course Content

The VAQS fellowship program began in the late 1990’s and has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive and established Quality Improvement (QI) training programs in North America. This two-year research program was designed to nurture fellows and junior faculty who would like to pursue academic careers in quality improvement and patient safety within the framework of leadership in medical administration, education, or clinical practice. The program is designed using a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The program center (hub) is at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, where local faculty run the program centrally, and work in direct partnership with the VA Office of Academic Affiliations. There are eleven other sites (spokes) in different geographic locations across the United States. Toronto is the twelfth site and the only non-American site for the VAQS program.


The two-year VAQS fellowship is comprised of four components:

  1. Weekly half-day meetings on Friday afternoons: 1-2PM in-person group meetings to discuss QI projects, present research, and discuss required course work (Toronto only); 2-3PM: two-way interactive videoconference (TWIV) sessions across all VAQS sites – Minimum 75% attendance is required.
  2. Mandatory attendance at the VAQS Summer Institute in Houston, Texas.
  3. Research project: fellows are expected to design and develop a research project of appropriate scope and breadth. They will be expected to present and discuss this project at various stages of development throughout the course.
  4. Bi-annual one-on-one meetings with Course Co-Directors and Coordinators to discuss progress, participation and research and academic goals.
Target Audience

Health care professionals in advanced stages of training or junior faculty to develop a career in research, in QI and health services, or in QI within the framework of leadership in medical administration, education, or clinical practice, especially those who would like to pursue academic careers in quality improvement and patient safety.

Core Faculty and Speakers

VAQS invites group speakers during the 1-2PM in-person class time to supplement the learnings from the TWIV. These health care leaders and researchers are highly respected experts in their field and provide mentorship and feedback on fellows’ projects and career goals. Speakers on the TWIV are topical experts who provide the knowledge and skills necessary for fellows to carry out their project.

How to Apply

The VAQS program mandates that each site restrict class size to small groups of no more than 6 fellows per year; i.e. total class size of 12 fellows. As such, acceptance to the program is competitive.

A complete application includes:
Letter of intent including a possible project concept and/or design.
Two letters of reference – one of the letters must be from a Department Chair or equivalent and explicitly state that the applicant will receive protected time and be freed from clinical duty for all 4 components of the curriculum.
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