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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.”

Supporting an equitable vaccine rollout: Connecting physicians

Over the course of the COVID pandemic, CQuIPS members and alumni have stepped up in significant ways to support their colleagues, patients and communities. In this special series, we highlight the work they’ve done towards a more equitable recovery.

Dr. Beth Gamulka

Dr. Beth Gamulka is a paediatrician at SickKids, EQUIP graduate and current CQuIPS Improvement Fellow. Early in 2021, she received an email from her chief medical officer asking for physicians to add their name to a list if they were interested in supporting vaccine clinics if and when an opportunity arose. Not only did Gamulka add her name, she, along with a colleague, put up her hand to lead the coordination of connecting SickKids physicians with clinics in need of staffing. That’s how she found herself with a list of more than 140 physicians.

“We went hospital to hospital in the GTA to find out if anyone needed physicians to help,” she said. “We urgently got 100 physicians temporary privileges to the Scarborough Health Network to help staff pop-up clinics in hot spots, we shared our list with Women’s College Hospital so our staff could vaccinate at their mobile clinics, and we had people supporting at Unity Health. We also helped staff special clinics for high risk SickKids patients – over two weekends we vaccinated more than 700 youth who had transplants or were on chemotherapy and what was nice was some of them had their own physicians give them the vaccine.”

Gamulka herself has been doing eight to ten vaccine clinics a month, describing the feeling there as “pandemic Disney.”

“These clinics are the happiest places on earth – just the vibe,” she said. “As much as we physicians think we’re all doing such a good thing, when you go to a clinic, you get more out of it than you get in – it’s a wellness exercise.”

In addition to being the lead source of information for many of her fellow physicians, Gamulka said the role brought her into contact with new colleagues.

“I’ve worked at SickKids for many, many years and there were people I’ve never met before suddenly volunteering and exchanging emails,” she said. “It was nice to see people coming together – you go to these clinics and you have a psychiatrist and anesthetist vaccinating together and they probably would have never otherwise run into each other.”

The biweekly Community of Practice Dr. Tara Kiran helped establish has supported family physicians to stay on top of updates during the pandemic

Dr. Tara Kiran has spent the last year and a half supporting family physicians to learn from each other to provide the best possible care during COVID-19. A family doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital, the Fidani Chair of Improvement and Innovation and the Vice Chair of Quality and Innovation at the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) at the University of Toronto, and CQuIPS core member, Kiran saw an opportunity early in the pandemic to create a safe space where people could bring questions, share best practices and learn from colleagues.

Under Kiran’s leadership, the DFCM and the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) collaborated to host a biweekly Community of Practice for family physicians. Sessions feature family doctors from across the province who share their expertise and innovations. Once the COVID-19 vaccination campaign began, the sessions grew in popularity and scope with some now featuring specialists who can help family physicians stay up to date with rapidly evolving evidence. All sessions are recorded and shared on the DCFM quality and innovation website and accredited – even after the fact – so those viewing can get continuing professional development (CPD) credits.

With 600 to 800 family doctors present at each session, the Community of Practice become a safe space for sharing updates and collaborating.

“We’ve gotten so much positive feedback – people turn to it as a source of information so it’s been great to be able to provide that consistency during this chaotic time,” she said. “For me personally, the sessions enable a connection with my colleagues and allow me to constantly keep learning about the latest evidence. I’ve enjoyed putting it together and connecting meaningfully with others.”

Kiran also spearheaded an effort with the DFCM team and OCFP to create a series of e-learning modules for primary care clinicians about COVID vaccination, which include resources on vaccine safety and efficacy, the role of primary care, building vaccine confidence and more. Constantly being updated, the modules are meant to be revisited to locate resources and stay on top of new updates. To date, more than 2,600 healthcare practitioners have registered for access.

“As many smart people have said, if we want to improve practice and outcomes, we have to link it to physician and practitioner learning,” she said. “Linking quality improvement and CPD is something I’ve been working on – even prior to the pandemic – and I think our challenge will be to continue to deliver CPD that simultaneously supports physicians in directly improving practice in a measurable way and is also grounded in patient and community needs.”

Kiran has also taken on a lead role of supporting patients during the pandemic, recognizing that many have been challenged to keep up with rapidly changing guidance. Kiran has been a regular presence in Toronto and provincial media, breaking down how changes affect everyday people and providing a reassuring voice. She’s also helped host patient town halls within her Family Health Team and developed informational handouts about vaccine safety.

“The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of providing clear, direct communication to the public which isn’t something we as physicians are necessarily schooled or incentivized to do,” she said. “I feel like this has been a good opportunity to hone these skills. There’s a huge interest in health and healthcare because of COVID and I think it would be great to leverage that beyond the pandemic.”

Supporting an equitable vaccine rollout: Building staff vaccine confidence

Over the course of the COVID pandemic, CQuIPS members and alumni have stepped up in significant ways to support their colleagues, patients and communities. In this special series, we highlight the work they’ve done towards a more equitable recovery.

Dr. Adina Weinerman

When Sunnybrook began planning vaccine rollout to staff, Dr. Adina Weinerman, Medical Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Sunnybrook and CQuIPS Certificate Course Co-Director, immediately thought about staff who would be hesitant.

“From everything I had been reading and our data from previous flu vaccine campaigns, I knew there would be staff who would not be interested in getting vaccinated – even those at very high risk based on where they live, how they get to work or their specific job,” she said. “Senior leadership was appropriately focused on the logistics of efficiently getting people vaccinated who immediately wanted the vaccine so Brigette Hales and I decided to work on a strategy for those who might need more information or time to understand the benefits.”

Working with Hales, Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Sunnybrook, Weinerman ran a mutli-pronged campaign that included recruiting more than 70 peer champions who could answer questions for their colleagues, creating frequently asked questions informed by qualitative interviews on hesitations identified by staff, and leading small group huddles in areas where vaccine uptake was low. They also partnered with the President’s Anti-Racism Task Force (PART) at Sunnybrook to inform a virtual session specifically for Black staff on the impact of COVID and vaccination.

“We knew objectively that COVID disproportionately affected Black communities in Toronto and Ontario and there’s a history of racism in vaccine creation and rollout,” she said, “so there was a real reason we thought it was important to reach out. It wasn’t that we anticipated more hesitancy than in other staff, but we knew there might be unique concerns and considerations. PART led the forum with an all-Black staff panel which included physicians, nurses and health professionals.”

Above and beyond all of that, Weinerman and Hales created an email address where staff could send their individual questions related to COVID – and the two personally responded to hundreds of emails.

“We really tried to take an approach where we understood that for many people, this is layered and deep and they have a lot of personal conflict related to vaccines. There was a ton of information everywhere but also a lot of false information so we wanted to be a source of impartial, truthful information so that people could make the best decision for themselves,” she said. “All along, people had great questions – it was clear they were reading about it on their own. It was completely worth it.”

As a result of their efforts, Sunnybrook reached an over 80 per cent staff vaccination rate in the spring – higher than the 70 per cent seen most years for flu vaccine.

Dr. Alena Hung was one of the staff champions recruited by Jennifer Wong. Her sign here reads: Have you received your COVID vaccine?? Questions????

Jennifer Wong deserves credit for that number too. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) at Sunnybrook and CQuIPS Improvement Fellow, she took on the task of leading staff vaccination confidence efforts in the Veterans Centre where she’s worked for more than a decade, home to some of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients.

“That’s our division of long-term and palliative care,” she said. “We’ve certainly seen in the news the impact COVID has had in this sector over the pandemic, so that was an area we really wanted to target, knowing the high risk.”

With the vast majority of residents getting vaccinated early in 2021, Wong turned to staff. Working with patient care managers and using her own knowledge of the centre, she recruited staff champions, bringing them together for weekly huddles to share latest updates, dispel any circulating myths and collaborate on strategies for challenging conversations. Champions were encouraged to recruit others as well so there was a network of respected individuals who could support their colleagues.

“We know from the literature that in terms of battling vaccine hesitancy and building vaccine confidence, being able to talk to someone who’s trusted and has a personal and vested interest in you is impactful,” she said. “And then everything we did after that was based on feedback we were getting from champions – we really tried to be responsive to what we were hearing from the front line.”

Other strategies included making it easier for people to book vaccines, as many staff don’t regularly check email; Wong and her team set up a booking table in the lobby and registered people on the spot in their areas. They also regularly visited units that needed additional support for walk-throughs or huddles to answer questions.

“Within the Veteran’s Centre, there are 15 patient care units and close to 500 beds so the staffing is massive,” she said. “We knew our small army couldn’t tackle everywhere so we used a data-driven approach to find out which areas needed the most attention and focus.”

Always focused on quality improvement, the next steps for Wong include collecting qualitative data on the efforts, identifying what enabled champions to be effective and what further barriers they encountered so they can be prepared for the next vaccine campaign.

“One of the main things I’ve drawn from this is that it’s important to understand how people are connected to each other and relate to each other,” she said. “It’s been a really great opportunity to use both QI and soft skills; that’s always been something that’s really interested me – it’s one thing to engage stakeholders, it’s another to create behaviour change. And it might just be my SLP background, but it’s important to recognize that how you say things is equally as important as what you say.”

Supporting an equitable vaccine rollout: Removing barriers for patients

Over the course of the COVID pandemic, CQuIPS members and alumni have stepped up in significant ways to support their colleagues, patients and communities. In this special series, we highlight the work they’ve done towards a more equitable recovery. 

Dr. Amanda Mayo

It was while responding to a COVID outbreak at St. John’s Rehab that Dr. Amanda Mayo, physiatrist at St. John’s Rehab and CQuIPS Associate Director, realized her team needed to do more to protect their patients. Lower on the priority scale than others for receiving the vaccine, rehab patients both on site and coming in for appointments were at high risk for contracting the virus.

“A lot of our patients have multiple comorbidities and regular home care – they can’t physically isolate from their personal support workers (PSWs) or nurses coming in and out of their home to provide care,” she said. “I had one patient who is an amputee who had ten PSWs visiting her apartment every week. Many patients I talked to were scared.”

Mayo, along with others in the Division of Physiatry, advocated for rehab patients to be moved up the priority list. As a result, vaccines were distributed to patients and staff on site early in 2021. Shortly after, the team began offering vaccines to outpatients as well, up to 12 appointments every Tuesday afternoon to individuals coming in for treatment and their essential caregiver family members.

“We were basically trying to vaccinate anyone who couldn’t vaccinate in the community,” Mayo said. “There are a lot of barriers for this patient population – for many pop-up clinics, you have to stand for long periods of time, and even just booking an appointment could be challenging for someone who doesn’t have internet, or who has poor eyesight, poor finger dexterity or may not use traditional technology. It was an access issue.”

Mayo said she was grateful to be able to help answer one of the biggest questions she was hearing from patients about how and where they could book their vaccines.

“It’s been fantastic because for some patients, the only time they might leave their home is to go to therapy for medical appointments. They were really happy to come to St. John’s because they’re familiar with the site and they have Wheel-Trans transportation booked for the site, so it just made things so much easier.”

Jacqueline Follis helped establish a vaccine clinic downtown Toronto

Early on in the vaccine rollout, another major barrier for many was that an OHIP card was needed to book an appointment. Jacqueline Follis, graduate of the CQuIPS certificate course, led the establishment of a vaccine clinic through Women’s College Hospital on College St. that specifically addressed this, connecting with community partners to book clients directly in.

“It’s really been about supporting our clients who face barriers to getting their vaccine,” said Follis. “My proudest moment was the Saturday where we saw 722 people come through – thirty percent of those were individuals who were uninsured, marginally housed or underhoused.”

The team has also hosted days for specific priority groups, including for youth 12 and older from French language schools (the site is fully bilingual) and one just for people who are uninsured.

Follis is an advanced practice nurse by training – it was during the pandemic that she was asked to step into the role of leader, first of the hospital’s COVID assessment centre and then the vaccine clinic. Prior to the College St. location opening its doors, Follis helped lead a three-week campaign visiting congregate living sites to vaccinate staff, clients and essential caregivers.

“I’ve been using my CQuIPS quality knowledge, medical background as a nurse and operational experience from the last year to answer the question of how we can better support our clients who face barriers,” she said. “I’m really proud of the opportunity I was given, that I could use my background and skillset to pull everything together. I’m just so grateful.”

Virtual posters now live on CQUIPS+

Every day, members of the CQuIPS community are working on quality improvement and patient safety initiatives to improve healthcare for both patients and providers. Earlier this year, we put a call out for abstracts for our first ever virtual poster presentation on CQUIPS+. With more than 50 incredible abstracts accepted, we are thrilled to share the first phase of posters, all amazing examples of QI research and scholarship. Please take a look and – if you’re a CQUIPS+ member – share your thoughts by adding comments!

Acute care

Ambulatory care

Diagnostic testing

Emergency medicine

Geriatrics

Long-term care

Mental health

OB-GYN

Oncology

Palliative care

Perioperative care

Primary care

Rehabilitation

Amber Daugherty is C-QuIPS’ new Communications Specialist

Amber Daugherty believes quality improvement is underrated.

“Most people who go to the hospital have no concept of the incredible amount of work happening behind the scenes,” she said. “Every step of a patient’s journey has been thought out – and it’s continuously being modified; healthcare providers are always thinking critically about how to keep everyone safer and make care more efficient so patients can get home sooner.”

Daugherty’s appreciation for quality improvement came from her role as Senior Communications Advisor, Quality at Unity Health Toronto. Working with everyone from frontline healthcare providers to vice presidents, she saw firsthand – and wrote about – the number of initiatives being trialed and implemented, from new safety reporting systems, to programs designed to reduce patient falls, to LEAN exercises in emergency departments.

That’s why she was so excited to take on a new role as Communications Specialist with the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS).

“Amber joined our team in the midst of a global pandemic and was immediately tasked with overseeing the communication of our Centre’s renewed strategic vision and plan.” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS Director. “She brings an energy and expertise to our team that allows us to grow our community and elevates our ability at C-QuIPS to broadly share what we learn.”

Before working at Unity Health Toronto, Daugherty was in the journalism world, working as a reporter and editor for the Globe and Mail and a chase produce for CTV News Channel.

“I love telling stories about the people behind initiatives,” she said. “From the nurse who reports an unsafe practice they notice so it can be changed, to the simulation team who runs a scenario 20 times to figure out how they can deliver urgent care just a few seconds faster, there are endless examples of the significant impact healthcare providers have every day.”

In her role at C-QuIPS, Daugherty is focusing on both highlighting the people at the centre of QIPS work, and sharing the research and findings about best practices in the field that can be adapted by other organizations.

As she gets started, Daugherty has an ask of the QIPS community.

Send me your story ideas. Let me know the exciting projects, research and ideas you have so C-QuIPS can amplify your work,” she said. “Healthcare gets better and safer every day because of professionals who care deeply about making the system more equitable, better and safer – so let us recognize your efforts and help share them.”

Equipping clinicians for academic success in quality improvement

Any clinician can tell you that a knowledge of basic quality improvement (QI) principles does not guarantee successful QI projects; many QI attempts result in learnings rather than lasting change. Graduates of the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS) Excellence in Quality Improvement Certificate Program (EQUIP), however, will tell you that the year-long mentorship and education program will significantly increase the likelihood of those projects succeeding – and results being published.

“In the program, we learned how to write a good QI paper, what QI editors are looking for and how to structure a project so it can be written about and shared,” said Dr. Anne Smeraglio, a 2020 EQUIP graduate and hospitalist at the Portland Oregon VA Health Care System. “And since graduating, those lessons have helped me get published.”

Knowledge gained in the program also helped Dr. Smeraglio advance to more senior roles – she’s now the Director of Quality Improvement in the Oregon Health & Science University’s internal medicine residency program​ and was invited to teach as part of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Program Director Patient Safety and Quality (PDPQ) Educators Network.

Dr. Smeraglio is not unique in this sense – many of the program’s more than 60 graduates to date from all across North America have found success in leading, teaching and publishing their QI work. Dr. Adina Weinerman, now one of EQUIP’s core faculty members, was in the program’s first cohort and said the program has had a significant impact on her career.

“EQUIP strengthened my quality improvement knowledge and made me more confident to lead and mentor quality improvement projects in an academic environment,” she said. “As a direct result of EQUIP, I am now the Medical Director, Quality and Patient Safety at my academic institution, and couldn’t be happier.”

EQUIP is delivered through six full days of virtual training (July 7-9, 2021 and May 9-11, 2022) and monthly webinars between. Over the course of the program, learners benefit from one-on-one coaching and mentorship from EQUIP faculty who are internationally recognized QI clinicians and experts. In addition to track records successfully executing QI projects in academic settings, faculty members have published their work in high-impact journals such as JAMA Internal Medicine¸ Academic Medicine and BMJ Quality & Safety.

“EQUIP is meant to provide a deeper dive into QI methodologies and help clinicians take their QI skills to the next level,” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS Director and EQUIP Co-Director along with Dr. Kaveh Shojania. “We’ve been amazed in every cohort at the calibre of our learners – they all bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm for QI and we know they make an impact in the QI field after they leave.”

Dr. Benjamin Leis, a newly-appointed staff physician and assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, was a cardiology trainee when he took the EQUIP course.

“Through EQUIP, I was taught a systematic approach to quality improvement which is invaluable and has already led to two publications in the last year and a half,” he said. “You are more likely to be successful in QI with the foundations taught in the EQUIP program. You will also meet wonderful people and mentors who will share your enthusiasm and be very useful professional connections for the rest of your career.”

Spots are open for the program’s fifth cohort. Learn more and apply here.

Dr. Patricia Trbovich joins C-QuIPS as Research and Scholarship Lead

Patricia Trbovich has no interest in going backwards after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a quality improvement and patient safety community, we have a societal responsibility to craft what a ‘new normal’ will look like,” she said. “We don’t want to go back to the old normal which was to normalize inequity, exhaustion and burnout.”

Dr. Trbovich is uniquely positioned to help create a better system – with a background in cognitive psychology, her career has focused on understanding the motives behind people’s actions. Partnered with her research experience – including as current Badeau Family Research Chair in Patient Safety and Quality Improvement at North York General Hospital – she is able to make recommendations about how systemic changes can better shape workflows and, ultimately, healthcare.

And now, through her new role as Research and Scholarship Lead with the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS), she will have a platform to help share best practices – across professions, provinces and countries.

“I really focus on the word ‘across’ here because, as QIPS professionals, we do a lot of great work but sometimes it’s in silos,” she said. “I see one of my roles as ensuring there is cross learning and sharing and ensuring that we help people put the proper research lens on some of the great practical work they’re doing so they can bring it to the next level and we can either scale or spread the innovation if that’s the right thing to do.”

Dr. Trbovich’s path has crossed the Centre many times – in addition to formerly teaching in the C-QuIPS certificate course and VAQS program, she is an associate professor in the MSc Quality Improvement and Patient Safety program at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and has been mentored by senior Centre members Drs. Edward Etchells and Kaveh Shojania.

“Her history with C-QuIPS made her a perfect fit for this role,” said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS director. “We’re excited to have her expertise on board. She is a pre-eminent researcher in our field and the incredible amount of knowledge she brings with her in human factors and QIPS research will benefit everyone in the QIPS community.”

One of Dr. Trbovich’s first priorities will be to focus on C-QuIPS’ two key themes: health equity and health system resilience – and specifically how they connect.

“If you’re able to improve health equity and diversity, then you will in turn build a more resilient health care system – I see them as two sides of the same coin,” she said. “These two themes aren’t topics du jour that we’re going to work on for two years and then let them go and move on to something else; I see these as important areas of priority we have to include in the way we do our research so it just becomes part of our work.”

Announcing C-QuIPS Improvement Fellows

The fastest way to spread quality improvement initiatives, successes and learnings from failures is through a strong network. That’s why one of our 2020-24 strategic plan goals is to grow our community – to create more opportunities for shared learning and the pursuit of joint research and improvement initiatives. It is through this lens that we are thrilled to announce our eight inaugural C-QuIPS Improvement Fellows:

  • Mo Alhaj, Department of Family and Community Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto
  • Genevieve Bouchard-Fortier, Gynaecologic Oncology, University Health Network – joint C-QuIPS-Choosing Wisely Canada Fellow
  • Allison Brown, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary
  • Natasha Gakhal, Rheumatology, Women’s College Hospital
  • Beth Gamulka, Pediatric Medicine/Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children
  • Ashraf Kharrat, Neonatology, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Samuel Vaillancourt, Emergency Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto
  • Jennifer Wong, Speech-Language Pathology, Sunnybrook Veteran’s

These individuals all have advanced QI training and bring diversity in terms of their clinical and professional backgrounds, organizational workplaces and QI interests and experiences. For the next 12-18 months, they will be integrated with our team, supporting quality and patient safety activities that are priorities for both C-QuIPS and our partner organizations as they further develop their QI experience and leadership.

“We were overwhelmed by the quality of candidates who applied,” said Joanne Goldman, C-QuIPS Fellowship Director. “We hope with this fellowship to foster a community of improvement – our Fellows will regularly be connecting with one another, working together and learning from one another. We are positive they will continue to make incredible contributions to the QIPS field.”

As a further example of connection and collaboration, one of the Fellows, Genevieve Bouchard-Fortier, has been selected as a joint C-QuIPS-Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) Fellow. C-QuIPS staff have actively been engaged in CWC priorities and we are happy to support Bouchard-Fortier as she is embedded within the national CWC campaign and aligns her initiative with campaign priorities/national implementation activities.

Stay tuned for more information on our Fellows and their work!

Meet Marie Pinard, C-QuIPS associate director for Women’s College Hospital

One of Marie Pinard’s top goals as the new associate director with the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (C-QuIPS) for Women’s College Hospital is no secret: she wants to get more interprofessional health care leaders involved in quality improvement (QI) and patient safety. As a nurse by background, Pinard has spent her career engaged in quality improvement at SickKids and Women’s College Hospital, and now she’s helping inspire others.

“Quality and safety need leadership in both the academic and operational worlds so part of our work is helping create a bridge between the two,” she said. “When you have more interprofessional providers trained in QI, you get more of those critical QI skills into the front lines of the health system which leads to meaningful changes and safer care.”

Pinard has been affiliated with C-QuIPS for almost a decade, providing support as a mentor to students and an instructor for the Centre’s certificate course. When Women’s College became part of C-QuIPS earlier this year – joining established partners Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children (‘SickKids’) and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine – it was a natural fit for Pinard to take on the associate director role, said Dr. Brian Wong, C-QuIPS director.

“C-QuIPS is focused on accelerating and deepening the work of people and organizations that are passionate about enhancing quality and patient safety,” he said. “And Marie has been involved with this work for years – initially as a front-line nurse and then in a variety of hospital-based leadership roles. And it’s the wealth of experience that Marie has accrued over the years that we are so excited to draw upon as we attempt to better align the work we do with the organizations we partner with.”

Working at Women’s College where a significant focus is on ambulatory care, one of Pinard’s other goals is to expand the quality lens to capture areas beyond inpatient practice.

“C-QuIPS provides access to so much knowledge and expertise that we can leverage, and education programs that can help develop more health leaders,” she said. “I drank the Kool-Aid; QI has been my whole career and I’m so passionate about getting more people involved – I’m excited to help build our QI community by getting more of my colleagues at Women’s College involved in this important work.”

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