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Acad Med. 2000 Jan;75(1):81-4.

Using early clinical experiences to integrate quality-improvement learning into medical education.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA.


Health care providers are delivering care in an increasingly complex environment; this requires that providers develop new competencies to better understand their work and to design changes that can help them succeed. Recognizing these new educational requirements, Dartmouth Medical School created a model two-pronged program for teaching quality improvement to its medical students. The goal of the program is to provide students with an active learning experience as well as an education in the theory and application of continuous quality improvement. The program includes two educational experiences: one curriculum is for all medical students and the other is for selected, highly motivated students. The first curriculum is incorporated in Dartmouth's required "On Doctoring" course, in which students spend time with community-based physician preceptors. The quality-improvement curriculum is designed around an improvement project developed at the students' preceptor sites. The second curriculum for students with a special interest in quality improvement is offered as an elective summer program between the first and second years of medical school. Working in groups of two, students identify an area for improvement within a preceptor's practice, assist the practice in articulating an improvement plan, help implement that plan, and write up their experiences. The authors describe the two curricula, factors associated with their successful implementation, and lessons learned.

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