Purpose: Learning about quality improvement (QI) in resident physician training is often relegated to elective or noncore clinical activities. The authors integrated teaching, learning, and doing QI into the routine clinical work of inpatient internal medicine teams at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. This study describes the design factors that facilitated and inhibited the integration of a QI curriculum—including real QI work—into the routine work of inpatient internal medicine teams.
Method: A realist evaluation framework used three data sources: field notes from QI faculty; semistructured interviews with resident physicians; and a group interview with QI faculty and staff. From April 2011 to July 2012, resident physician teams at the White River Junction VA Medical Center used the Model for Improvement for their QI work and analyzed data using statistical process control charts.
Results: Three domains affected the delivery of the QI curriculum and engagement of residents in QI work: setting, learner, and teacher. The constant presence of the QI material on a public space in the team workroom was a facilitating mechanism in the setting. Explicit sign-out of QI work to the next resident team formalized the handoff in the learner domain. QI teachers who were respected clinical leaders with QI expertise provided role modeling and local system knowledge.
Conclusions: Integrating QI teaching into the routine clinical and educational systems of an inpatient service is challenging. Identifiable, concrete strategies in the setting, learner, and teacher domains helped integrate QI into the clinical and educational systems.