Monday, October 1, 2012

Reflections on 100,000 strong for our patients

Recently, I have come to agree with Dr. Berwick, viewing the IHI Open School as not just a movement, but a revolution started by students who are motivated to change the culture of care in the systems where we work.  We are finding that in order to make the changes we need to achieve higher quality care at a lower cost, we must transform entire systems of care.  100,000 students and residents signed-on to the IHI Open School is an incredible number and is certainly a huge milestone!  These students are entering their respective health professions as natural leaders in quality and safety.  In many ways, they have now become the experts in their systems.  But our patients need us more than ever.  We need more students to sign-on.  The systems are not changing quickly enough and we require a small army to teach others how to develop safer, more effective, patient-centered care that is timely, efficient, and equitable.  This means teaching the science of quality, safety, teamwork, and communication.  We must do this together.  And it must be multi-disciplinary.  Health care delivery is increasingly complex.  Patients are confused, vulnerable, and are being harmed more than we would like to admit. 

The IHI Open School is the absolute best way for us to come together, connecting with students of all disciplines in our local chapters, advocating for IHI Open School courses to be integrated into the curriculum at our schools, teaching other health care providers about these important topics, and engaging in dialogue with students and faculty around the world through the IHI Open School chapter network.  I originally thought of the IHI Open School as a motivator, an entity designed to encourage students to complete courses on their own time and develop the skills they need.  However, after four years of existence, it is now becoming an integrator.  The concepts we learn through IHI Open School are the threads that connect all health disciplines.  Every student in every health discipline should have these skills.  Application of these skills has solved many complex problems and will continue to solve problems and improve patient care on a larger scale.

So let’s bring 100,000 more students to the IHI Open School. 100 years ago, Dr. William James Mayo stated in his commencement address at Rush Medical College in Chicago, “The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and in order that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, a union of forces is necessary.”  Indeed, our union of forces is the IHI Open School. 


--Ryan Miller is a 3rd year medical student at the Sanford School of Medicine and Chapter President for the South Dakota IHI Chapter