June 1, 2021

First place prize at AAMC meeting goes to patient safety and quality improvement pivot led by medical student

A student-led medical education effort showcasing the successful conversion of an in-person patient safety and quality improvement event into a virtual setting has earned top honors at a meeting hosted by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Megan Walsh

“Virtual Room of Horrors: Transforming a quality improvement education program to a virtual setting with the goal of early introduction of quality improvement and awareness of patient safety and medical errors to medical students” was selected as the top-scoring poster by a student within the AAMC’s Central Group of Education Affairs’ Innovations in Medical Education category.

Third-year medical student Megan Walsh presented her work at the group’s virtual meeting in April. The Room of Horrors in the title is the name of a simulation designed to be a “worst-case scenario” of patient safety, including a mock patient chart and a staged and photographed patient room. Learners were given 20 minutes to identify and report their top ten safety hazards such as a high bed without side rails, syringes with uncapped needles left on tables and more.

“It was exciting to be able to participate in a regional meeting. I didn’t have expectations beyond showing up to present my poster, so it was a cool surprise to see that it did well,” she said. “I think that quality improvement and patient safety are topics that are addressed more often during residency, so the emphasis on introducing these areas to medical students may have stood out. We also demonstrated that this previously in-person event could be converted to the virtual format and still sustain engagement and increase students’ knowledge of quality improvement, which I think is an area of interest for medical educators.”

Walsh presented the work, which included collaborators clinical instructors of Internal Medicine Jie Chi, M.D., and Lea Monday, Pharm.D., M.D.; Chief Internal Medicine Resident Omid Yazdanpanah, M.D.; Internal Medicine resident Mowyad Khalid, M.D.; WSU medical student Caleb Sokolowski and Professor of Internal Medicine Diane Levine, M.D.

The poster project explained how the team created an interactive online case for medical students to work through in small groups to identify patient safety errors and risks. The team also provided a debrief of the safety risks and quality improvement methods to address them, and found that students' knowledge of quality improvement increased after the session. 

The work was initially presented at the School of Medicine’s second annual Medical Education Research and Innovation Conference, where it tied for second place in the Poster-Innovation-Completed Work category.

“Megan is an innovative educator who has greatness in her future,” said Dr. Levine, vice chair of Education in the Department of Internal Medicine. “She is an impressive student who was able to work collaboratively with her colleagues to develop this unique program to deliver virtual education in Quality Improvement. Megan is creative, hardworking and has tremendous initiative.”

Walsh has served as a board member of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s WSU chapter.

“Through the Institute for Healthcare Improvement student interest group, the School of Medicine has done a great job getting students exposed to quality improvement and patient safety, especially as it relates to the operating room setting. I liked this project because it has an inpatient focus, which we will see on almost every rotation during our third and fourth years,” she said. “We just completed a follow-up event with third-year medical students on their Internal Medicine rotation, so we will be analyzing those data soon.”

Because of Walsh’s work, medical students at the School of Medicine and pharmacy students at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences this year are learning together in interprofessional teams about quality improvement.

“Her virtual transformation of the Room of Horrors allows this group of health professional students working at different clinical sites to come together to learn about QI, something that was nearly impossible in to deliver physically in a classroom,” Dr. Levine said.

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