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VA Quality Scholars (VAQS)

Not sure if this is the right program for you? Check out the CQUIPS Program Comparison Chart here.

Course co-directors:

Dr. Jessica Liu

Nely Amaral

Scholar Emeritus:

Dr. Chaim Bell

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
  • In-person: CQuIPS SickKids site, Suite 630, 525 University Avenue, Toronto
  • Summer Institute: Aug 14-18, 2023 – Houston, TX

$3,500 (each year) and self-funding for travel and lodging at Summer Institute

Course content

The Veteran Affairs Quality Scholars (VAQS) fellowship program began in the late 1990s 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 QI and patient safety within the framework of leadership in medical administration, education or clinical practice.

The VAQS program is designed as a ‘hub and spoke’ model – with a coordinating center at the Houston Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (IQuESt) at the Houston VA and Baylor College of Medicine. Faculty run the program and work in direct partnership with the VA Office of Academic Affiliations, which oversees all VA Advanced Fellowship Programs. There are nine other sites (spokes) across the United States. Toronto is the tenth and 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. 14-18, 2023)
  3. Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Symposium on November 1, 2023 in Toronto
  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

*one/month in person, the rest virtual

Target audience
  • Healthcare 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 QI 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

Completed applications must be emailed to by April 28, 2023 and should include:

  • CV (four pages max)
  • Letter of intent including a brief project concept/proposal
  • Two reference letters (one must be from a Department Chair or equivalent in support of the candidate that explicitly states that the application will receive protected time from clinical duty for all components of the curriculum)
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