‘Bridging leaders’ link quality, medical education


“We created our local ‘Choosing Wisely’ challenge for residents and staff at the University of Chicago – with the understanding that the winner would get analytic and time support to pursue their project,” she said. A resident winner was a finalist in the RIV (Research, Innovations and Clinical Vignettes) competition at a recent SHM Annual Conference.

At the University of Colorado, there is an associate program director who is responsible for the quality improvement curriculum for residents, Dr. Tad-y said. Because teaching QI means doing QI, the associate program director had to start implementing QI in the hospital, learning how to choose appropriate QI projects for the residents. That meant looking at quality priorities for the hospital – including VTE prophylaxis, fall prevention, and rates of central line–associated bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. “A critical priority was to align the learners’ QI projects with what the hospital is already working on,” she explained.

“In our practice, all fellows need education and training in patient safety, how to recognize medical errors and close calls, and how to use our errors reporting system,” Dr. Myers said. “They also need to participate in errors analysis discussions. But we have struggled to get residents to attend those meetings. There’s not enough time in their schedules, and here at Penn, we have 1,500 residents and fellows, and maybe only 20 of these formal medical errors conferences per year,” she said.

Dr. Myers worked with the hospital’s patient safety officer and head of GME to design a simulated approach to fill the gap, a simulation of the root cause analysis process – how it works, the various roles played by different individuals, and what happens after it is done. “In my role, I trained one faculty member in each large residency program in how to identify a case and how to use the simulation,” she said. “They can now teach their own learners and make it more relevant to their specialty.”

Penn also has a blueprint for quality – a road map for how the organization socializes health care quality, safety, and value, Dr. Myers said. “Every 3 or 4 years our CEO looks at the road map and tries to get feedback on its direction from payers and insurers, quality leaders, academic department heads – and residents. I was in a good position to organize a session for a representative group of residents to get together and talk about where they see the quality and safety gaps in their everyday work.”

The role of the bridging leader is a viable career path or target for many hospitalists, Dr. Arora said. “But even if it’s not a career path for you, knowing that hospitalists are at the forefront of the bridging leaders movement could help you energize your health system. If you are seeing gaps in quality and safety, this is an issue you can bring before the system.”

These days doctors are wearing a lot of hats and filling roles that weren’t seen as much before, said Dr. Orlowski. “Bridging leaders are not an exclusive group but open to anyone who finds their passion in teaching quality and safety. Maybe you’re doing quality and safety, but not education, but you recognize its importance, or vice versa. First of all, look to see what this bridging leaders thing really is, and how it might apply to you. You might say: ‘That accurately describes what I’m doing now. I have the interest; I want to learn more.’”


1. Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. CLER pathways to excellence.

2. Myers JS et al. Bridging leadership roles in quality and patient safety: Experience of 6 U.S. Academic Medical Centers. J Grad Med Educ. 2017 Feb;9(1): 9-13.


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