Quality Improvement Educational Practices in Pediatric Residency Programs: Survey of Pediatric Program Directors



      The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires residents to learn quality improvement (QI) methods to analyze, change, and improve their practice. Little is known about how pediatric residency programs design, implement, and evaluate QI curricula to achieve this goal. We sought to describe current QI educational practices, evaluation methods, and program director perceptions through a national survey.


      A survey of QI curricula was developed, pilot tested, approved by the Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD), and distributed to pediatric program directors. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.


      The response rate was 53% (104 of 197). Most respondents reported presence of a QI curriculum (85%, 88 of 104), including didactic sessions (83%) and resident QI projects (88%). Continuous process improvement was the most common methodology addressed (65%). The most frequent topics taught were “Making a Case for QI” (68%), “PDSA [plan–do–study–act] Cycles” (66%), and “Measurement in QI” (60%). Projects were most frequently designed to improve clinical care (90%), hospital operations (65%), and the residency (61%). Only 35% evaluated patient outcomes, and 17% had no formal evaluation. Programs had a mean of 6 faculty members (standard deviation 4.4, range 2–20) involved in teaching residents QI. Programs with more faculty involved were more likely to have had a resident submit an abstract to a professional meeting about their QI project (<5 faculty, 38%; 5–9, 64%; >9, 92%; P = .003). Barriers to teaching QI included time (66%), funding constraints (39%), and absent local QI expertise (33%). Most PPDs (65%) believed that resident input in hospital QI was important, but only 24% reported resident involvement. Critical factors for success included an experiential component (56%) and faculty with QI expertise (50%).


      QI curricular practices vary greatly across pediatric residency programs. Although pediatric residency programs commit a fair number of resources to QI education and believe that resident involvement in QI is important, fundamental QI topics are overlooked in many programs, and evaluation of existing curricula is limited. Success as perceived by pediatric program directors appears to be related to the inclusion of a QI project and the availability of faculty mentors.


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