Department of Nutrition

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Overview of Learning Tool

This learning tool includes five sessions and was developed for implementation in group settings, but also may be completed individually as a self-study. Personnel from Maternal and Child Health (MCH) leadership education and training programs, official health agencies, and other organizations are invited to learn about quality improvement (QI) using this learning tool. Each session has two sections—preparation and active learning. The preparation for each active learning session includes readings, completion of interactive online modules, and, in some cases, review of webpages. Some preparation materials require registration with programs outside of the University of Tennessee; it is recommend that you register for these at least 48 hours in advance of when you plan to complete the activity. Active learning follows preparation and involves considering, answering, and discussing questions related to the materials used to prepare for active learning. The emphasis in active learning is the application of knowledge gained in preparation for skill development. A total of 30-45 minutes should be designated for the active learning component of each session.

Session 1—The Overview of Quality Improvement is an introduction to QI through reading materials and completion of an interactive online module.  QI will be defined along with the processes that drive QI.  Specifically, the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycle, a systematic approach used to engage in a QI process, is emphasized.  Several tools, such as the fishbone diagram, are introduced.  Additionally, the membership, structure, and leadership support required for a QI team are analyzed.

Session 2—Quality Improvement in Clinical Care provides exposure to QI in clinical care settings and especially draws from material from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.  A document from the Institute of Medicine that proposed how the health care system can be reinvented is read and examined in relationship to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.  Implementing a QI process to promote the ability of primary care providers to provide intensive obesity counseling is explored also.  A research article about the development, implementation, and evaluation of a quality improvement project in clinical care allows the learner to identify key components (e.g., specific aim, how to know if a change is an improvement, etc.) of a QI project.

Session 3—Quality Improvement in Public Health—Part I defines quality in public health and provides a foundation for what QI in public health is. A preparatory reading from the Institute of Medicine introduces the nine aims of public health, which then are applied at big (big QI) and small (small QI) organizational levels during the active learning component. An interactive online module provides knowledge about additional QI models, strategies for how to prepare aim statements, and benefits of using a process map as a tool to understand what is truly happening within a process.

Session 4—Quality Improvement in Public Health—Part II defines the difference between QI, quality assurance, and evaluation. Readings from the American Public Health Association share the successes and challenges of state and local health departments that have implemented QI projects. The primary focus is how to evaluate effectiveness in public health across organizational levels to ensure the end product is useful. Several innovative methodologies, such as using a social network structure, are introduced and applied during the active learning component.

Session 5—Quality Improvement in MCH Training provides an overview of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) and an opportunity to prepare a QI plan and logic model for MCH training based on the knowledge and skills learned in the previous four sessions.

The complete 5-session learning tool can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking HERE. However, please check back with this website for updates to the Resource List.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number T79MC09805, Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Health Nutrition, $176,795, 50% funded by the University of Tennessee, Department of Nutrition. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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