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Students Collaborate to Improve Health Care and Patient Safety


From left to right: James Cervantes (G'12), Bernard Horak, one of the faculty advisors, and Dr. Daniel Alyeshmerni help lead the Georgetown chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

October 11, 2011 – The Georgetown Chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Open School, is helping students at the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) and School of Medicine (SOM) to learn more about improving quality of care and patient safety.

Students, faculty and leaders within Georgetown University Hospital, SOM and NHS have come together to advance the chapter’s activities.

Important Issue

“Safety is becoming an increasingly important issue in today’s changing health care landscape,” says Kevin O’Malley (M’14). “Implementing research in the hospital requires education of health care providers and administrators. With IHI, I have the opportunity to learn about patient safety and incorporate it into my medical school education.”

The IHI is a Massachusetts-based organization that focuses on improving health care through innovative training for students and professionals.

Patricia Cloonan, chair of the department of health systems administration, is one of the faculty advisors and a member of the working group responsible for leading the chapter.

“The chapter is aligned with our educational mission to promote interdisciplinary work,” she said. “It provides our students an unparalleled opportunity to work with medical and nursing students to address complex clinical problems.”

Revolutionary Program

Others members of the working group include Bernard Horak, professor of health systems administration and another faculty advisor, Dr. Eileen Moore, assistant dean for community education and advocacy at SOM, Dr. Daniel Alyeshmerni, hospital resident, and James Cervantes (G’12), health systems administration student. The chapter has more than 70 members.

“We are doing something that is pretty revolutionary,” Cervantes says. “It is rare to have a forum for health administration, medical and nursing students to be at the same table with hospital staff driving real change.”

Host of Topics

Every Friday, representatives from the Center for Patient Safety at the hospital meet with the students, faculty advisors and physicians to explore a host of different topics.

Issues raised have ranged from communication among residents during shift changes to the prevention of blood clots.

Participants have gone on to present their work at research conferences and some hope to produce a manuscript for submission to a scholarly journal.

“The initiative has exceeded our expectations thanks to collaborators across the campus,” Horak said.  “Our students have acquired firsthand exposure to the inner workings of the hospital, particularly the clinical processes and methods for ensuring patient safety and improving quality.”

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