Student Stories

Arun Srinivasan, MD, MHQS

Associate Professor of Urology in Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Masters in Healthcare Quality & Safety Alumni

I switched over  from the certificate to the master’s program because I liked what I was learning. The value in healthcare is driven by efficiency in quality and safety. It’s the driving motor for all our healthcare directives going forward and we have to be involved in the process to be part of the solution.

What did you find most valuable in the program?

The comradery and the breadth of people you come across and meet that otherwise you would not have a chance to meet. The knowledge dissemination and support that is offered generally by the program managers and by the support crew. And the understanding they offer knowing you have a full time job, and they remain courteous of your time and effort. My capstone is now complete and I can tell you this could not have happened without great support from the faculty leadership and support staff. They all have been extremely responsive during this whole journey which has taken me three years to finish.

Sean Foster, MD

Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Penn Medicine
Healthcare Quality & Safety Certificate Alumni 

I am the Assistant Chief of Emergency Services at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and the ED Director of Quality Improvement for the Presbyterian ED.

What sparked your interest in applying for the program?

I had been in the quality role that I am currently in for a couple of years but without any formal training. I became increasingly aware of the gaps in my understanding of quality improvement. We were essentially playing ‘whack a mole’ applying short-term fixes to little problems. I did not feel that we were building sustainable, spreadable solutions. 

What did you find most valuable in the program?

The curriculum is really thoughtfully designed to give you a full picture of quality improvement. I enjoyed that even in a four course curriculum, there was an opportunity to do an elective. I took the course on evaluating QI and found it so valuable and something that I use, if not daily than definitely on a weekly basis.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

It felt like almost everybody in the program was full time and all the course directors were really cognizant of that. The time in classes was spent thoughtfully. The amount of outside work was manageable. I did not find it difficult, I did it in over two years and I liked the flexibility and the timeframe. 

Christine D. Franciscovich, RNC, CRNP, NNP-BC

Surgical Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Masters in Healthcare Quality & Safety Student

Through the time in this program, I have advanced and now have a specialty role as the Patient Safety and Improvement Advanced Practice Provider for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

What sparked your interest in applying for the program?

I had become interested and wanted to do more quality improvement work so I took the IHI RCA2 course, the leading improvement course at my institution, and was so interested in it that I thought to myself ‘I really want to move forward!’. Knowing that we had this program, I enrolled in the Maters of Healthcare Quality & Safety program at UPenn.

What did you find most valuable in the program?

I would say the highlights of the program is the leadership, administration, and mentorship. Meeting and networking with people from different areas in different hospitals has been a really nice way to build on your own quality improvement projects. Even within your own institution, networking with various leaders and other quality improvement specialists has been really helpful.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

Managing going back to school has been very achievable. It is nice to have support from your family, there is some time that you will be away but I think the work is very manageable outside of the course, and it is enjoyable so it does not feel like it is a lot of work. I have also found that the program is quite doable. I highly recommend it!

Laurel J. Glaser, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Penn Medicine
Healthcare Quality & Safety Certificate Alumni 

I am a Pathologist and Director of Microbiology Lab at HUP and Presby. I also am the Medical Director of Path and Lab Quality Office and I lead the residents in their quality and safety education.

I encourage everybody, if you’re not sure, just take one class. If you take it, I think you will stay because you will learn an incredible amount. It was a really enriching experience.

What did you find most valuable in the program?

For me I think one of the most important things I took away was learning the language of quality improvement. I think the health system is learning the language together over the last many years. So now when I’m on calls with nursing and with quality improvement leaders, I can understand what they are talking about, and I see the flow of how projects go and to me that was just really valuable. In our department in pathology, a lot of the quality was happening at the operations level and the faculty had not been as engaged in that part of it and so I think this was really great to just be interdisciplinary and to be able to come back and work with people in my department in all different areas.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

The program is very flexible, and they will work with you as long as you have the support from your department for those afternoons that you are going to need for your clinical duties. There is not a ton of homework to do afterwards so it is completely manageable.

Mary Blackwell, RN

Safety Quality Manager at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Masters in Healthcare Quality & Safety Student

What sparked your interest in applying for the program?

In my previous role at CHOP, I analyzed safety events or viewed events of harm and led quality improvement initiatives. I initially applied and completed the certificate program. I was interested in going back to school for a master’s just because I felt like I needed more knowledge in the area of safety and quality. I was already in this leadership role in safety and quality but really felt that I reached my maximum on the job training.

After I completed the certificate, I wanted to complete the master’s because I wanted to get even more out of it. My capstone is about the administration of Safe Administration of Electrolyte Boluses in inpatient oncology. From the frontline perspective on my unit, this was a really challenging and complex process and unclear guidance. 

What did you find most valuable in the program?

What has been valuable in this program is how I am already seeing I can lead improvement and make changes in my clinical environment. It has been great meeting likeminded people at CHOP and I have been able to make friends along the way.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

The hybrid model of classes is great. I think it is great to have the mix of in-person to meet and connect and also have some flexibility with online courses. I really found that the structure of this program allows me to make progress on goals at work. I am a part time student and am lucky to have some flexibility with my work hours, so it has not been difficult to fit classwork into my schedule. What has been helpful for me has been to not think about class and work as completely separate, but to consider this program as professional development and as an opportunity to make progress at work.

Jacqueline Zedalis

Enterprise Improvement Advisor for the Center for Healthcare Quality and Analytics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Masters in Healthcare Quality & Safety Student

What sparked your interest in applying for the program?

I applied for the program after completing training at IHI and I was ready to seek additional training in Quality and Safety and this program seemed like a great fit. I started out as a Certificate student and then  I applied for the master’s program.

What did you find most valuable in the program?

I love the size of the program. I think it’s small enough that you really get to know your classmates and colleagues. I have been able to work on improvement projects with classmates as well, which is great. I can’t say enough about all of the faculty and staff in the CHIPS program. They are all extremely helpful and responsive and all around really want you to succeed in the program.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

I manage work and school by taking one class at a time and I think the structure of the program is really helpful in that it really ties very nicely into your day to day work. School doesn’t always feel like schoolwork. It feels like work-work as well! All of the faculty and professors in the program do a great job at giving you theory but not giving you busy work. It’s all really valuable course work.

Julie Uspal, MD

Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine
Masters in Healthcare Quality & Safety Student

I’m an emergency medicine attending at HUP and the Director of Quality and Safety in the HUP Emergency Department.

What sparked your interest in applying for the program?

I became interested in quality and safety when I was a resident at Penn. I found that I kind of hit a ceiling in my own learning and professional growth and needed something to help me grow and expand and complete the work that I was doing in a better way.

How did you manage going back to school while also working full time?  

I have been taking one to two classes at a time, each have been exactly what I was looking for; a mix of theory but also really practical things that helped me in my daily job.

If you are on the fence or thinking about it, I would absolutely encourage you to take this program. I, like many others in this program, work full time, have small children, and still found this program manageable. I would highly recommend!