Wow, what a sense of achievement! On February 5 2015, I was handed my certificate for the completion of my Improving Quality Together (IQT) Silver project. Yes I am one of those 10,291 participants who’ve done the IQT Bronze award, completing it a couple of years ago and I’ve now been able to go that extra step forward by completing my IQT Silver.
So what was my project?
As the title of this blog suggests, the aim was to increase the number of times student nurses contributed to ‘academic’ online discussions. I have an interest in e-learning and the reason I chose this topic area was to explore how the use of technology can further enhance teaching and learning.
What did I learn and how has my every day approach changed?
- Despite being able to pinpoint when there was an increase in student engagement (viewed as an improvement) this by no means was the end point of my improvement project. This was only one PDSA cycle. Through this PDSA cycle I could identify when student involvement increased with the inclusion of a ‘live online chat’- a synchronous event.
- I was only looking at a very small aspect of student learning. I would recommend that when thinking about looking at an improvement project do not choose a complex situation. Stand back and think of the small obvious improvements that can make a difference.
- I was completing my project from an educational perspective, this was personally a positive move as I flipped the same principles of patient centredness to student centredness.
- I have attended several international conferences and have heard how important it is to be implementing quality improvement ideas in clinical practice, no matter how small the idea is. However, as an educator I can see that IQT is creating a common language for students, but the biggest hurdle is converting the knowledge into simple practical changes.
How did I get to this point of achieving my Silver Award?
Well, it was – and is – an ongoing experience. I was a participant at the 1000 Lives Improvement IQT Silver training with several colleagues from other Universities across Wales in the summer of 2014. During the training we were advised that we would need to put theoretical knowledge in to practice.
Initially I came up with several improvement ideas. I enjoyed taking part in the practical activities to help me consider which one would be most appropriate for my IQT Silver Project – Process mapping, voting etc. These activities were used to help embed the significance of quality improvement principles and their application to real projects. I have to say, even though I selected to work on a project that already had easy accessible data, the whole experience still made me think about the real issues; such as ensuring I had a focussed aim, as well as what, and how, was I going to measure to highlight that a change had made a difference.
What was good about the IQT Silver sessions was being involved with other colleagues who were interested in Quality Improvement and the opportunity to share ideas. It made much more sense! Attendance was a brilliant opportunity to be able to learn and listen from others and develop my own skills.
The Kings Fund describe person centred care as a ‘state of involvement and being in control of your own care’. Using this type of approach ensures that the person is at the centre of their own care & decision making, enabling involvement, inclusion and control of their own situation. All these principles are applicable to a student centred approach. What would appear to be a prudent approach!
I would like to add that if I can complete my IQT Silver Project, I’m sure you can too!
On a serious note, completing the Silver Award has strengthened my knowledge base around the principles of quality improvement, especially the Model for Improvement and applying the knowledge to a practical project. Making it real.
Undertaking this project has made me realise that involving students in the creation of the online activities ultimately results in a productive experience for both students and educators and I’m looking forward to continuing my improvement work and making real change.
Angela Williams is a Lecturer in Nursing at Bangor University.