MD Area of Concentration: Leadership in Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety

The Leadership in Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety area of concentration immerses medical students in the field of healthcare quality improvement and patient safety through education, practical experiences, and interactions with physicians and other health care team members engaged in improving the delivery of healthcare.



  • Complete Institute for Healthcare Improvement Basic Certificate in Quality and Safety
    • Completed on your own time, online, asynchronously. Instructions can be found here
  • Participate in a 2-day interdisciplinary team-based workshop focused on learning and applying quality improvement tools to a real hospital problem. Example of 2-day workshop agenda.
    • Two days in person, typically in July. 
  • Enroll in one of the following 1.0CU courses:
    • HQS 6010: Healthcare Quality: Standards, Landscape, and Measurement
    • HQS 6120: Principles and Practice of Healthcare Quality Improvement
    • HQS 6500: Systems Thinking in Patient Safety
    • HQS 6080: Using Quality Improvement to Achieve Health Equity
      You can find upcoming course dates here



  • Provided by the Area of Concentration Director (required to meet 2 times/year)
  • Additional mentorship will be provided by a faculty advisor in the clinical or operational area of interest of the student.

All requirements must be completed by the end of February during your graduating semester.*

*Requirements must be reported to PSOM at this time but you can continue to finish an HQS course and/or participate in committees. 

Contact Leader:


Students do not need any prior experience in Quality Improvement & Patient Safety but an interest and a general understanding of the field is preferred. 

Students work with faculty across various disciplines on projects that include, but are not limited to:

  • Diagnostic Error
  • Codes outside of the ICU
  • Patient access to surgical oncology consultations
  • Incidental radiology findings on lung imaging

Students will collaborate with their faculty mentor to determine a clinical area that both interests students and has the need/capacity for student commitment. 

Applications open September 11, 2023 and close October 13,2023. Students are welcome to apply as early as MS1 through fall of MS3. 

Apply here

You can find the detailed list of requirements at the top of this webpage. 

Program requirements should be completed by February of your final year (MS4).

    • You can finish a required HQS course between February and graduation and/or continue to participate in committees.
  • Start the IHI modules as soon as you matriculate into the program. You can complete these at your own pace. Instructions for IHI completion are listed on the AoC website.
  • Look ahead at your schedule and plan out which HQS course you plan to take and when and let the AoC Director and the Penn CHIPS Administrative Director know in advance.
  • Connect with your assigned faculty advisor to determine which meeting(s) you will participate in and when they are held. Block off your schedule to the best of your ability.
  • I have general questions about the requirements (including which HQS course to take and when)– Karen Shala
  • I have questions about a career in QPS – Assigned Faculty Advisor
  • I have questions about the specific meeting that I was connected to – Assigned Faculty Advisor (or Neha Patel)
  • I have questions about my faculty advisor or want to change my faculty advisor or team/committee – Neha Patel

We suggest a check in twice per year. This can be scheduled once in the fall and once in the spring semester.

  • MS2 and MS3 students with an area of interest will be connected with a faculty advisor upon matriculation into the AoC.
  • MS1 students may be connected to a general committee but Neha Patel will serve as a faculty advisor until an area of interest is determined. Note that some MS1s may have an area of interest and be connected with a faculty advisor upon matriculation.
  • If you are already connected with a Mentor, the AoC leadership may suggest that you continue that partnership without an additional mentor and committee to lighten the load and not overburden your schedule.

You should meet with your Faculty Advisor once or twice a year, outside of the committee/team meetings that you are connected to and expected to attend.

We understand that schedules are variable while in school and we suggest that you attend as many meetings per year as possible. If you find that you are not able to attend any of the meetings, or at least 4 per year, reach out to Dr. Patel.

The goals of mentoring are to stimulate ideas and goals in your area of interest, help you identify opportunities, and help facilitate productive networking.

  • Schedule your meetings well in advance.
  • Be respectful of the mentor’s time. Send an agenda ahead of time and take initiative.
  • Determine what you want to get out of the meeting and come prepared with questions. Clarify goals and expectations.
  • Ask for specific feedback.
  • Introduce yourself and get to know your team. This is hard to do virtually so work on introducing yourself to everyone…think of putting in the chat…”Hi, I am Sam and am a medical student.  I am here as an observer and hope to learn quality and safety through this experience.”
  • Be pro-active…if something comes up and you have the time to help or want to know more about, reach out to that team member to ask how you can get involved.
  • The Academy For Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety hosts transformative 4-day, immersive workshops each summer convening residents, fellows, medical, nursing, and pharmacy students focusing on patient safety concepts, and applying quality and safety improvement strategies and tools. Applicants are selected based on demonstrated passion and interest in patient safety, history of leadership, and commitment to ongoing education and scholarship in patient safety. Sessions are guided by nationally and internationally recognized patient safety leaders and advocates.
    • Applications are typically open November – January for the following summer. Current applications are due January 15, 2024 for Summer 2024 sessions. Find more information on the AELPS website here