Paths of Excellence: Patient Safety & Quality Improvement
A caretaker interacting with an elderly person

Improve Care within Complex Systems

Discover tools and resources to improve patient and provider care at every level.

Better Care

Consider this path if:

  • You've ever thought that patient care was too complicated or doesn't work the way it should
  • You want to keep patients safe from inadvertent harm
  • You wish you could make things run "smarter" and more smoothly
  • You want to make patients happier, and make care less bureaucratic and frustrating

The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement (PSQI) Path of Excellence is designed for medical students interested in understanding how to improve care of their patients within complex health care systems. This Path provides students with tools and resources to improve the safety, quality, timeliness, efficiency and satisfaction for patients and providers at every level.

The PSQI Path is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn in real-time some of the very essential and critical quality improvement tools used to make system processes leaner and patient care safer. Learning these tools can significantly improve one’s analytics skills and problem-solving approaches.

Jawad Al-Khafaji
MD, MSHA, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Path of Excellence
People on computers at free fun student clinic

Through this Path, students learn to:

  • Understand characteristics of a complex system, and witness first-hand how complexity can affect patient safety and quality of care
  • Understand the role of quality in ensuring consistently good care of one’s patients
  • Understand the concepts and tools involved in a “learning” health system
  • Apply core concepts and tools of safety science to understand why adverse events occur
  • Reduce or eliminate unintended harm to patients while providing care
  • Utilize tools of improvement science, structured problem solving, and “lean thinking,” to improve health care and efficiency within and across individual, unit, and organizational levels

Michigan Medicine clinical care facilities feature a robust patient safety and quality improvement infrastructure, with many initiatives in practice on a daily basis. Through the PSQI Path, students will access real-world experiences, such as:

  • Participating in ongoing clinical safety and quality activities such as daily huddles, worksite visits, and morbidity and mortality conferences in many different departments focusing on safety and quality
  • Becoming members of safety teams and attending meetings at various organizational levels that address patient safety and quality
  • Attending special events and exhibits such as the annual UMHS Quality Month each October featuring presentations and posters about more than 50 institutional PSQI projects, and the annual Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety or CHEPS Open House presenting quality and safety projects
  • Shadowing UMHS personnel leading or furthering PSQI initiatives including those from the Michigan Quality System, Office of Clinical Affairs, Medical Group, Department of Learning Health Sciences, and CHEPS


The PSQI Path of Excellence is flexible so that students and their mentors can prioritize the opportunities available in the curriculum according to their individual interests.

Med students are encouraged to join this Path in the winter of M1 year, or may choose to join at the beginning of M3 year. Students will begin developing their Capstone for Impact projects after the M1 year and will complete the projects by the end of the M4 year. These projects will generally involve an effort to improve patient safety or the quality/efficiency of patient care. Students can work individually with a mentor or as part of a team, and also have access to a Capstone for Impact advisor.

View the Capstone for Impact Projects Archive >

Jawad Al-Khafaji, MD, MSHA
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Michigan Medicine; Clinical Educator, VA Ann Arbor Health System; and Director of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Path of Excellence, University of Michigan Medical School
Christopher Grondin, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Clinical Educator, VA Ann Arbor Health System; and Co-Director of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Path of Excellence, University of Michigan Medical School