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Aligning Academic Continuing Medical Education With Quality Improvement: A Model for the 21st Century

Davis, Nancy L. PhD; Davis, David A. MD; Johnson, Nathan M.; Grichnik, Katherine L. MD, MS; Headrick, Linda A. MD, MS; Pingleton, Susan K. MD; Bower, Elizabeth MD; Gibbs, Ronald MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a34ae7

The recent health care quality improvement (QI) movement has called for significant changes to the way that health care is delivered and taught in academic medical centers (AMCs). This movement also has affected academic continuing medical education (CME). In January 2011, to better align the CME and QI efforts of AMCs, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) launched a pilot initiative called Aligning and Educating for Quality (ae4Q). The goal of this pilot was to assist 11 AMCs as they moved to a more integrated model of continuous performance improvement by aligning their quality measurement and improvement with their continuing education endeavors. In this article, the authors describe the development of the ae4Q pilot and the resulting outcomes that have led to ongoing improvements.

During the 18-month pilot, AAMC consultants conducted readiness assessments and on-site visits and provided consultation services and Web-based resources based on the AMC’s needs. Following these interventions at each site, they then conducted both interviews with participants and postintervention assessment surveys to measure the impact of the pilot. Findings included demonstrated increases in the alignment of CME and QI, a greater use of quality data in CME design and delivery, and a greater use of CME as an intervention for clinical improvement. Two sites also attributed measureable improved clinical outcomes to their participation in the ae4Q pilot. The AAMC has used these findings to create resources and ongoing services to support AMCs as they pursue efforts to align QI and CME.

Dr. Nancy Davis is director, Practice Based Learning and Improvement, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Dr. David Davis is senior director, Continuing Education and Improvement, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Mr. Johnson was research associate, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Dr. Grichnik is associate dean for continuing medical education and associate professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Headrick is senior associate dean for education, Helen Mae Spiese Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and professor of medicine, University of Missouri–Columbia School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri.

Dr. Pingleton is associate dean of continuing education/professional development and Joy McCann Professor of Women in Medicine and Science, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Kansas.

Dr. Bower is assistant dean of continuing medical education and associate professor of medicine, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, Portland, Oregon.

Dr. Gibbs is associate dean of continuing medical education and professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado.

Acknowledgments: We thank those who participated in the pilot and reviewed this article, including Charles Kilo, Richard LeBlond, Steven McLaughlin, Marc-David Munk, David Pieper, Chittur Sivaram, Curt Steinhart, Mary Strong, Chitra Subramaniam, and Susan Zollo, along with the others at each pilot site who contributed to the success of this program. Additionally, we thank the AAMC staff including Marie Caulfield, who assisted with survey results analysis, and Shayla Woodson and Carol Goddard, who provided administrative and logistical support for the pilot.

Funding/Support: None.

Other disclosures: None.

Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Nancy Davis, Association of American Medical Colleges, 2450 N St. NW, Washington, DC 20037-1127; telephone: (202) 741-0757; e-mail:

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges