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IHI Scholarship Recipients Share Their Experiences (2020-2021)


We proudly support IHI Open School Chapters at UBC, UBCO, UNBC, UVIC and SFU and provide an annual scholarship fund that supports exceptional students to attend educational events related to quality and safety. We’re thrilled to help leaders of tomorrow deepen their understanding of quality improvement and the work being done in our province by attending the Quality Forum and other improvement related events.

We received some testimonials from students we sponsored to attend the IHI National Forum 2020 and the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare 2020 – below you’ll find a collection of blog articles and vlogs that outline what they experienced! Stay tuned for more testimonials.

The photo above is a group of previous scholarship recipients; at the next opportunity we get, we’ll share a photo of this year’s group!

Interested in learning more about the IHI Open School? Visit our Student Programs page.

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended IHI National Forum 2020 (virtual).

My name is Stephanie Quon and I am a second year electrical engineering student at UBC, specializing in biomedical engineering! This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Forum, with the generous support of a BC Patient Safety & Quality Council and IHI Open Schools Healthcare Improvement Scholarship. 

As the conference was online this year, all sessions were recorded, which offered a lot of flexibility in attending presentations. During the conference, I had the privilege of attending presentations on topics ranging from data tools to improving equity in healthcare. I thoroughly enjoyed every session I attended, and two presentations covered topics especially close to the work I am interested in: “Telehealth Implementation to Scale up and Sustainability”, and “Improving the Perception of Patient-Centered Wellness in a Virtual Population During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. 

From the “Telehealth Implementation to Scale up and Sustainability” presentation, it was very interesting to hear about the daily workflow of telehealth, and learn about how telehealth is being used during COVID-19. The presentation also highlighted how a pulse oximeter can be a powerful tool for telehealth, which I found very interesting as I recently learned about pulse oximeters on a signal, sensor, and circuit level. 

From the “Improving the Perception of Patient-Centered Wellness in a Virtual Population During the COVID-19 Pandemic” presentation, it was interesting to see the positive outcomes of a virtual wellness project and a mobile health app. An outcome of the study was that apps need to have the capability to automatically record their use for the project or intervention to be sustainable, which I found quite surprising. 

My biggest takeaway from the conference was a better understanding of the clinical side of quality improvement. From an engineering perspective, I usually get instructions on what I need to build or code without the context of who will use the tool or how it will be used. As my experience with quality improvement research has been purely technical, I found this experience very valuable and eye-opening. Moving forward with the research I am currently involved in, I now have a better understanding of the importance of designing specifically for the needs of the population. Overall, the conference gave me a much more well-rounded perspective on what healthcare improvement looks like and the impact it can have. 

Thank you to IHI Open Schools, the BCPSQC, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Forum for this opportunity!

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended IHI National Forum 2020 (virtual).

As a second-year medical student at the UBC Southern Medical Program, I had the privilege of attending the 2020 IHI National Forum. Under normal circumstances this conference would’ve taken place in Orlando, Florida. Instead, I participated from the comfort of my living room couch. Despite the change in setting, I feel tremendously fortunate to have taken part in this event alongside healthcare professionals and students from around the world.

Upon logging onto the online platform, I was impressed by the incredible variety of sessions that were available for us to attend. Over three days, the speakers covered a broad range of subjects from the technical and operational to issues of social equity, with a unifying theme of patient-centred and quality care. Some of the subject areas included patient flow in hospitals and strategies to improve efficiency, optimizing telehealth, the Black Lives Matter movement and maintaining compassion during burnout. Many of the presenters were speaking to their experiences working the frontline of the pandemic, discussing lessons learned from this unprecedented year.

I was very interested to attend the session “When Crises Collide: Sustaining Opioid & Substance Use Disorder Priorities in the Face of a Global Pandemic”, as this is a subject close to my heart. Beyond discussing the impact of COVID-19 and how it has exacerbated the existing opioid epidemic, the panel of speakers provided concrete actions we can take as individuals to enable system-wide changes. As a student, I often feel like a very small part of an enormous system. I was reminded that small changes to combat our own biases and stigma can be an important catalyst for change.

Although the conference hosted many engaging speakers, Dr. Don Berwick’s keynote speech left me with a lasting impression. In his presentation, he discussed how polarization both politically and in healthcare and can foster negative health outcomes. I was encouraged to critically consider how silos can impede healthcare quality and the role of shared communication to improve this division.

I am extremely grateful to have taken part in the 2020 National Forum. I want to sincerely thank the IHI Open School Chapter at UBC and the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council for offering this incredible opportunity to broaden my horizons. Despite our distance from one another, in a year defined by isolation, the Forum was an opportunity to come together and engage with other healthcare professionals with a shared passion for improving patient care.

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended IHI National Forum 2020 (virtual).

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare 2020 (virtual).

I attended the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare, a virtual conference that ran between November 2nd and 6th, out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 3000 people from a variety of healthcare backgrounds attended the conference from all over the world and enjoyed both live and on-demand programs. It was an excellent conference. Opportunities like these provide me with knowledge and skills that go beyond what is taught in a university curriculum. As a pharmacy student in her fourth and final year, I appreciate every opportunity to grow and learn so I may become the best clinician possible. Thank you, BCPSQC & IHI Open Schools, for selecting me to receive the Healthcare Improvement Scholarship and giving me the opportunity to attend this conference.

The conference included multiple fascinating lectures and the content was updated to address the current COVID-19 pandemic. The live sessions were kicked off with a live panel session on how to tackle common challenges and break down barriers in light of COVID-19. The current pandemic poses accessibility challenges for a large proportion of our population. These accessibility barriers could be due to both physical and emotional challenges and should be acknowledged and addressed by healthcare providers across the spectrum. As healthcare providers we need to find ways to address and overcome accessibility barriers to ensure standard of care is maintained and patients are not left behind untreated. The conference organizers stated: “In these uncertain and challenging times, it has never been so important to consider how healthcare on a global scale can emerge from crisis stronger and more connected than ever before”, and I could not agree more. I see this global crisis as an opportunity for quality improvement that can be sustainable and provide better care for our patients not only during, but also beyond the pandemic. Donald Berwick and Kedar Mate from IHI gave an inspirational talk which focused on six paths towards system change: equity as a necessity for quality, social determinants of health, extending our duty to care, speed of change, getting real about scale, and focus on the care that is actually needed rather than that which is expected. These paths towards system change could be implemented when an approach to system change is suggested to help provide better care during COVID-19.

The poster session included over 700 poster presentations (including my poster!) on a variety of topics. The organizers added a feature where you could chat with the poster presenter, ask questions and make comments. It was fascinating to see what is being studied and focused on around the world. I was left to reflect on where I would like to see the Canadian healthcare system go in the coming years.

This conference was a great opportunity to advance my knowledge in an interprofessional virtual setting. I highly recommend to students to attend next year’s International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare and hope that I have the opportunity to attend again in the future.

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended the IHI National Forum 2020 (virtual).

I want to start by sincerely thanking the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council and the BC IHI Open School Chapters for this incredible opportunity to attend the Virtual IHI Forum 2020. As a first-year medical student and life-long resident of Northern BC, I have always been passionate about health care quality improvement and attending the forum has allowed me to gain exposure on innovative and leading QI projects while also developing a strong foundational knowledge in QI that I will be able to apply throughout my future education, research, career, and practice.

Reflecting on my experience, one of the most popular themes at the IHI Forum this year was the undeniable impact of COVID-19 on health systems from around the world. For example, many of the sessions highlighted strategies and approaches that have been taken by healthcare providers, organizations, institutions, and other relevant stakeholders to improve the health and quality of care experienced by patients and populations affected by COVID-19. This included presentations on how health systems can ensure equity in response to COVID-19, promote professionalism during times of crisis, maintain compassion and quality of care throughout the pandemic, and respond to and support the needs of nurses, physicians, and other health care workers facing mental health issues, burnout, and challenges in the wake of COVID-19. It was also inspiring to see how amidst this global pandemic, significant improvements in patient care have been achieved through what Dr. Jonathan Gleason referred to as “opportunistic transformations”. These transformations included innovations in the use of new technologies (i.e. telehealth, remote monitoring, and home-based care models), rapid advances in patient safety for at-risk populations, and the management of competing health priorities such as the opioid crisis in times of COVID-19. Many of the talks also focused on approaches that could be taken to maintain these positive changes both during and in the post-pandemic era.

In addition to the keynote speakers and scheduled presentations, attending the IHI Forum 2020 also offered countless opportunities to engage, learn, and network with leaders and learners in the field of QI through platforms such as the innovations theatre, storyboard, and after-hours events. In particular, I found the projects displayed on the storyboard gallery to be motivating as a new member of the QI community as they were practical initiatives that could be undertaken by learners like myself and applied to diverse populations, communities, and health systems. These included initiatives aimed at addressing aspects of healthcare such as value, cost, quality, equity, leadership, safety, and person-centered care.

Overall, the IHI Forum 2020 was an excellent experience that has broadened my perspectives on quality improvement and demonstrated that both large and small changes can have a profound impact on patients, health professionals, and the quality of healthcare. Recordings of each session from the Forum have also been made available to attendees and I am looking forward to re-watching and viewing several more presentations from the event. Thank you again for the opportunity to develop the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge required to undertake healthcare quality improvement activities, advocate for change, and improve healthcare for all.

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare 2020 (virtual).

My name is Michelle Lisonek and I am delighted to have received the BCPSQC and IHI Open Schools Healthcare Improvement Scholarship to attend the 2020 IHI International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. I was originally set to attend the conference in Copenhagen in April 2020; however, with the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was moved online and postponed to November 2020. I think many of us can relate to the disappointment that came with the alteration of plans due to COVID-19. Although it was great to be able to attend talks in my pyjamas, I had been excited to not only explore the capital of Denmark, but also dive headfirst into networking in person with scientists and healthcare professionals from around the world. Despite the setbacks faced by the pandemic, the forum still proved to be an extremely valuable experience.

IHI seamlessly switched the international forum to an online platform. In their conference browser, you could view your profile, the programming schedule, ePosters, partners, and participants. Sessions were held live in Danish time, which unfortunately translated to very early hours of the morning in Vancouver. Although this made it extremely difficult to attend sessions in real-time, all talks were recorded and will be available for on-demand viewing until May 2021. This set-up greatly increases the access to information, as talks that ran during the same timeslot can now all be viewed at separate time points and at the attendee’s own pace.

The theme of the conference this year was “Breaking Down Barriers.” Pedro Delgado, the Head of Europe and Latin America Regions for IHI, was one of the individuals leading the introduction to the forum. He emphasized the values of curiosity, compassion, and community over not only the next few days at the forum, but also during these unprecedented times. The conference was filled with inspirational talks from global leaders in healthcare. I was happy to hear about driver diagrams and PDSA cycles, as these are concepts that were also covered during the IHI Basic Certificate in Quality and Safety (another great, and free, opportunity that is fantastic for anyone looking to learn more about quality and safety).

Reading this, you may be wondering what you can do next in terms of quality improvement. Dr. Don Goldmann, Professor of Peadiatrics at Harvard University, discussed five urgent challenges to address by 2030: (1) prove that your interventions are effective before scaling up; (2) embrace innovation and collaboration with regard to technology in this new digital age; (3) respect advances in basic and translational sciences and leverage these discoveries; (4) learn what works in other fields, even when it is not outright called “improvement science;” and (5) be conscious of measurement fatigue. If you are pursuing a career in healthcare, I encourage you to face these challenges head on through a lens of curiosity, compassion, and community, so that we can continue to break down barriers and improve healthcare worldwide.

BCPSQC & IHI Scholarship Recipient 2020-2021, Attended the IHI National Forum 2020 (virtual).

This year, I had the pleasure of attending the 2020 IHI National Forum with the educational scholarship offered to me by the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council. After an unarguably difficult year for everyone, especially the healthcare profession, it is amazing to have the opportunity to gather again with my healthcare allies to see all the improvements the world has made as a whole during its battle in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having attended and loved in-person conferences in the past, I was very excited to see what the virtual format of the IHI National Forum this year would bring to the table. In the beginning, I was not fully confident that the virtual format will bring to us the full experience. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I attended the forum days. The sessions ran smoothly and everyone was engaged in conversations through the chat. Although lacking the spontaneity of interactions in face-to-face sessions, virtual attendance did not deter participants from asking their questions and expressing their thoughts. As expected, many sessions of the National Forum this year were very much focused on the topic of COVID-19. I had the valuable opportunity to listen to experts in the field talk about the technological advancements made, the treatment and public health strategies developed, and the outcomes of what has happened in the past year.

Overall, this was an extremely fruitful and engaging experience. The success of the virtual format opened up many doors for healthcare professionals across the globe to be able to attend forums that are half way across the world. However, I must say that even though I would love to attend virtual conferences again in the future, I very much miss the in-person interactions in which we were able to engage in previous years. I certainly also miss enjoying the amazing food offered during those conferences with my friends and colleagues. As excited as I am for all the technological advancements that make events like this possible and more accessible than before, I truly wish that the world can get past this pandemic together soon and that we will be able to see more in-person events being held in the near future.


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