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VA Quality Scholars (VAQS)
Course co-directors:

Dr. Chaim Bell

Nely Amaral

Dr. Jessica Liu

Course coordinator:
Time commitment:
  • Live classes and group discussions: Fridays from 1-3 p.m.
  • Additional: group assignments and individual QI project work
Course locations:
  • Virtual (with the potential to move to in-person in 2022)
  • In-person: CQuIPS SickKids site, Suite 630, 525 University Avenue, Toronto
  • Summer Institute: TBD – Houston, TX

$3500 (each year) and 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 centre (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 nine other sites (spokes) in different geographic locations across the United States. Toronto is the tenth 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 sessions on Friday afternoons*:
    • 1-2 p.m. group meetings to discuss QI projects, present research and discuss required course work (Toronto only)
    • 2-3 p.m. 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 (Aug. 9-13, 2021)*
  3. CQuIPS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Symposium (tbd in Oct. 2021)
  4. Research project: fellows are expected to design and develop a research project of appropriate scope and breadth that they are expected to present and discuss at various stages of development throughout the course

*Please note: While all aspects of the course are currently virtual, there’s potential for in-person classes in 2022. Likewise, students should plan to be physically present at the 2022 Summer Institute.

Target audience
  • Health care professionals in advanced stages of training
  • Early-career faculty interested in research, QI and health services, or QI within the framework of leadership in medical administration, education or clinical practice. This course is especially beneficial for those who would like to pursue academic careers in quality improvement and patient safety.
Core faculty and speakers

VAQS invites group speakers during the first hour of 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.

How to apply

We are no longer accepting applications for this year.

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