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The Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program: Experience From 10 Years of Training Quality Scholars

Splaine, Mark E. MD, MS; Ogrinc, Greg MD, MS; Gilman, Stuart C. MD, MPH; Aron, David C. MD, MS; Estrada, Carlos A. MD, MS; Rosenthal, Gary E. MD; Lee, Sei MD, MCR; Dittus, Robert S. MD, MPH; Batalden, Paul B. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bfdcef
Quality and Safety
Abstract

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program (VAQS) was established in 1998 as a postgraduate medical education fellowship to train physicians in new methods of improving the quality and safety of health care for veterans and the nation. The VAQS curriculum is based on adult learning theory, with a national core curriculum of face-to-face components, technologically mediated distance learning components, and a unique local curriculum that draws from the strengths of regional resources.

VAQS has established strong ties with other VA programs. Fellows' research and quality improvement projects are integrated with local and regional VA leaders' priorities, enhancing the relevance and visibility of the fellows' efforts and promoting recruitment of fellows to VA positions.

VAQS has enrolled 98 fellows since 1999; 75 have completed the program and 24 are currently enrolled. Fellowship graduates have pursued a variety of career paths: 17% are continuing training (most in VA), 31% hold a VA faculty/staff position, 66% are academic faculty, and 80% conduct clinical or research work related to health care improvement. Graduates have held leadership positions in VA, Department of Defense, academic medicine, and public health agencies.

Combining knowledge about the improvement of health care with adult learning strategies, distance learning technologies, face-to-face meetings, local mentorship, and experiential projects has been successful in improving care in VA and preparing physicians to participate in, study, and lead the improvement of health care quality and safety.

Author Information

Dr. Splaine is associate professor of medicine and community and family medicine, Center for Leadership and Improvement, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Dr. Ogrinc is associate professor of medicine and community and family medicine, and senior scholar, Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont, and Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire.

Dr. Gilman is director, Advanced Fellowships, VA Office of Academic Affiliations, Washington, DC.

Dr. Aron is professor of medicine and senior scholar, Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, and co-director, VA HSR&D QUERI Center for Implementation Practice and Research Support, Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Estrada is associate professor of medicine and senior scholar, Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Rosenthal is professor of medicine and senior scholar, Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, and chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Iowa City Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Iowa School of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.

Dr. Lee is assistant professor of medicine and associate fellowship director, Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, Division of Geriatrics, San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, California, and University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Dittus is professor of medicine and senior scholar, Department of Veterans Affairs National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, and chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Nashville Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Batalden is professor of pediatrics and community and family medicine, and director, Center for Leadership and Improvement, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Splaine, Director, VA National Quality Scholars Fellowship Program, Center for Leadership and Improvement, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, 30 Lafayette Street, Third Floor Novell, Lebanon, NH 03756; telephone: (603) 653-3232; fax: (603) 653-3201; e-mail: (mark.e.splaine@hitchcock.org). Information about the VAQS program can be obtained at www.vaqs.org.

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges