Apr 17, 2016

Our blue and gold stars! Celebrating graduates of the 1st UC Davis Training Program in Health System Improvement

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

Depending on who and what you read, this quote has been attributed to Lao Tsu, Maimonides, the Bible, the Chinese, the Native American, my colleague Scott, and even to the Italians!

Regardless of the quote’s origins, it brings home the importance of promoting self-sufficiency to sustain change.  

On March 16 this year, 32 physicians, nurses, students, trainees, and staff graduated in the inaugural class of the UC Davis Training Program in Health System Improvement.

With the Class of 2016
The program is a way to learn about the science and art of improvement. As you might imagine, these are invaluable skills in our current health care environment.

The program teaches skills to enable learners to implement, evaluate and sustain population-level improvement initiatives. Our objectives are to increase learners’ ability to understand and apply tools and strategies to improve health systems, participate in teams to implement changes, and contribute to organizational change management efforts.

We used a blended learning style. A selection of online courses from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School complemented interactive in-person learning at the 2-day intensive course on March 15 and 16.

A big hit at this year’s training was the Ball Toss Game where teams of participants formed a circle. Their goal was to toss a tennis ball to another team members – but not to the person right next to them – without dropping the ball. The game teaches participants how to reduce cycle time and to eliminate dropped balls (i.e., defects) using trial and error.

The Ball Toss Game in progress
Players stop at the end of each turn to assess their last performance and to tweak their next move based on their experience. They learn that they need to change process and system if they want true improvement. They find that getting closer to each other and communicating expectations in advance helps the team improve flow and less likely to drop the ball. They self-organize and discover that smaller teams do faster and better. And they also realize that a little fun and is a great way to build team spirit.

The Ball Toss Game is very physical. So it works well right after lunch or at the end of the day when energy levels are at a low-point.

Blue and Gold certificates of completion (UC Davis school spirit!) were awarded to 32 graduates at the 6th Annual UC Davis Quality Forum on the afternoon of March 16. We asked graduates what was the most surprising thing that they learnt from the training. Here are some responses: 
  • "I was surprised to learn that we have so many resources to help our efforts in our health system."
  • "How much financial waste can be avoided through quality improvement and streamlining processes."
  • "The significant reduction in preventable deaths since the initial Institute of Medicine report".
  • "The multitude of different tools (DMAIC, PDSA, etc.) that do essentially the same thing but with a slight twist."
  • "The amount of detail and research that should/is involved in quality improvement."

- Ulfat Shaikh (@Ulfat_Shaikh)