Monday, August 22, 2011

Quality Management Education

In 1994 I was invited to become the Chair of the Canadian Advisory Committee to the ISO Technical Committee 212 and to become a member of working group that was to design a new quality standard for medical laboratories.  That document became known as ISO 15189:2003 – Medical laboratories - particular requirements for quality and competency.

One of the requirements of 15189 was that since quality initiatives would likely not be effectively incorporated into medical laboratories if we continued with quality being an “off the side of the desk” task of the senior technologist, medical laboratories should identify a person who could commit more time and effort to the process.  That position was called a Quality Manager.  It was a good idea.

In Canada this was going to be a bit of a problem because more laboratories or schools of technology had no idea about what a quality manager was going to do, and what sort of information they would require.  So at the University of British Columbia we decided to take on the task of creating a course.  A few decisions were made.  The program should be available for people who worked in medical laboratories for at least 5 years, regardless of their background.  A prior BSc degree would not a requirement.   The course should be available as an on-line program so that people could take it without having to quit working or travel to Vancouver.  The course should be interactive so that the people taking the course were part of a discussion group rather than being at home alone with a computer.  The course should be useful for working with 15189 but should be focussed solely on 15189.  Quality should be addressed as a broader subject. 

So once we went through the university process, a faculty was developed and the course created, and was first offered for enrolment in 2004.  The course structure is a 20 week on-line course with opportunity for interactive discussion, either by chat or by asynchronous interaction.  The course provides a library of all the required text books, including a variety of recommended and required readings.  The course is objectively monitored and assessed and a certificate is provided for successful participants. 

The course has continued on ever since, with continual review and improvement.  Course reviews are open and transparent and available on-line.

In January 2012 we will be offering the course for its ninth year.  

The on-line start date is Wednesday January 11, 2012.   

The course continues to be driven by the same principles.  This year in addition to addressing ISO15189, it also looks at ISO 9001:2008 and ISO9004:2009.  We look at Quality Partners and the roles that they play.  We also look at Costs of Quality (and poor Quality).  We address Root Cause Analysis, FMEA, Quality Indicators, Implementing Quality, and a variety of other topics.  Most participants find that the course requires a certain commitment of some 6-12 hours a week for reading and discussion.

What started as a course primarily for British Columbian laboratorians has become popular across Canada, and internationally with participants from China, Africa, South America, Central America, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.  It has been taken by technologists, laboratory assistants, pathologists and residents. 

We will start to accept enrolments in September 2011.

For people interested, please visit or contact our coordinator at                   

People who have take  the course are welcome to make comments.


  1. Very good stuff has been updated about Quality Management Education. Thanks for this tutor.

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  2. Thanks Hijaz
    We have continued on with our course offering as a Virtual Classroom On-Line Education (VCOLE). In fact I just finished mentoring for Module 1, in this our 17th year.
    We have also provided an in-site version for groups in Africa and Asia where language and time-zone issues become difficult hurdles.
    We are very proud of what we have accomplished, not only as an academic exercise, and not only as a teaching moment for people engaged in Quality Management, but we certainly are aware of how many patients whose lies we have helped improve by ensuring their staff are knowledgeable and competent in making thing better.


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