Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Quality Management Education – Message and Structure by Design

It has been a while since I have been in a blog writing mood.  Too many things happening.  Over the next short while I expect we will be much more active.  My most recent experience has been in teaching Quality Management to laboratorians of all professions as part of our university's Continuing Professional Development program

Our Virtual Classroom On-Line Education (VCOLE) course has been growing rapidly, to now almost double our enrolment of 2015.  This was in interesting lesson for me because I have always been resistant to allowing the course to get larger than 25 participants because I thought that too many people would create chaos in the classroom discussions.  I was convinced to be more open, and this year we had over 40 people, with physicians, technologists, quality managers, and administrators from multiple countries, and I was amazed at how well it worked.  Yes, there were some comments on overcrowded discussion sites, but we learned how to fix that, and it indeed worked excellently.  The participants really seemed to enjoy the course, and I know that their course colleagues will continue to be an important contact source for the participants as they develop their own contact networks.  It took a little bravery on my side, some risk/benefit analysis, and we came out with a success.  

In a similar vein, we were approached by an international health organization to see if we were interested in taking our course to South East Asia to deliver the course for an additional 26 Quality Managers and Laboratory Managers.  The challenge was that most of the group spoke little English and their internet access was usually unstable.  So with a little head scratching and some Deming-like Planning, we figured out to deliver the course not on-line, but on-site with the assist of some translators.  Rather than run the course for a continuous 21 weeks, as the current on-line course runs, we had to adapt the schedule to allow people to come together from across the country in a single place without disrupting their work.  (Also if I had decided to go to leave Canada for 21 weeks, I suspect my wife would have not been pleased).  So we settled on 1 week every six months, with continuity plans built in.  That meant maintaining the content of the on-line course, but adapting it to 3 very intensive weeks that included content, presentations, discussion, assignments, quizzes and a final exam.  

As with every plan it needed some tweaking along the way (call that Plan-Do-Study-Act) but it was amazing how well it came together.  The group stayed intact, their performance evolved to a very productive point, and their reviews at the end were in the range of 88% high level success.  

All it took was a little innovation, creativity, planning and impetus, but I suspect that you would all say that if every plan was put together with the same tools, the outcome would be fairly predictable.  

This has been a very busy time for all our mentors and staff, and for me.  And it took a lot of background administration to bring it all together but this is what I learned:

  • Health organizations around the world are increasingly aware to the Costs associated with Poor Quality.
  • The appetite for Quality Management training in the laboratory area continues to grow.
    • People want the knowledge
    • Their institutions want the knowledge
    • The public demands the knowledge.
  • More and more institutions are prepared to support their staff participating in courses that are designed to deliver. 
  • Quality Management courses can and should be delivered in a variety of appropriate organizations and institutions, including universities.
  • The impact of the Quality education impacts the people that take the course, their staff, their customers, their family members, their organizations and institutions and public health.

  • The sharing of knowledge is profoundly positive and enriching on all sides. 

So now we have one course in Laboratory Quality Management that is ready to go in two formats, both on-line and on-site.  We know there is an audience and with two proven approaches, we are ready to continue on. 
Burn-out is NOT an option.

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