Editor’s note: The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Physician in Training Committee launched a scholarship program in 2015 for medical students to help transform health care and revolutionize patient care. The program has been expanded for the 2017-18 year, offering two options for students to receive funding and engage in scholarly work during their first, second and third years of medical school. As a part of the longitudinal (18-month) program, recipients are required to write about their experience on a monthly basis.
I am currently working with my mentor, Dr. Ian Jenkins, an attending in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, to start piloting data collectionto cut catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). We have contacted a number of potential units to recruit for CAUTI prevention efforts, but we are hoping to do a preliminary trial of data collection to better estimate the amount of time it takes to gather data for an individual unit.
Our biggest challenge to date has been trying to coordinate our data collection efforts across the different units in the hospital and with different staff. Within our hospital, nurses are often the first line of defense regarding the daily maintenance and upkeep of Foley devices. However, physicians are often the responsible party when it comes to initiating or placing orders for such devices. We are trying to identify a point person in each recruited unit that can help us with the “on the ground” data collection for that unit. Our hope is that this will facilitate more consistency in data collection across the different units we recruit, as well as streamline the process of communicating across specialties, patients, and providers.
I am quickly learning that conducting a successful quality improvement project requires one to be forward-looking in an attempt to identify challenges before they arise. With respect to coordinating data collection, it may have been helpful for us to initially meet with hospital staff to identify the best staff for coordinating data collection efforts (i.e. physician, nurse, trainee) within each individual unit. This could potentially have helped us to also better communicate and recruit individuals to partner with us for our project.
I am continuing to enjoy the challenges of performing a quality improvement project. One skill that I have developed is learning how to be forward-thinking in my approach to research in an attempt to handle challenges prospectively, as opposed to retrospectively. This has helped me improve everything from how I think about data collection to how I think about displaying results. I am truly grateful to my mentor Dr. Jenkins for his help in this regard.
Victor Ekuta is a third-year medical student at UC San Diego.