12-month Improvement Science Program

March 2020 to March 2021

NSW Government Clinical Excellence Commission logo

The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC), established in 2004, is 1 of the 5 key structural reforms outlined in the NSW Health Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Program (PSCQP) and as an evolution of the Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Using the Model for Improvement, this workplace-based 12-month Improvement Science (IS) Program – beginning with a 2-day face-to-face session – will provide an opportunity for RACP Advanced Trainees and new Fellows to focus on developing their non-technical skills as well as their medical expertise.

Participants will be supported to complete their own local improvement project to enhance the quality and safety provided by their teams. Quality and safety is central to all aspects of patient care and participants will learn the skills required to recognise and respond to improvement opportunities.

The 12-month program aligns with several domains of the RACP Professional Qualities Curriculum (PDF) and enables participants to improve the safety and quality of care to patients through: 

  • enhancing the knowledge of clinicians about quality improvement theory
  • improving the ability of clinicians to identify causes of process failures within their clinical teams
  • enhancing clinicians' personal and professional leadership skills
  • developing interdisciplinary teamwork
  • equipping healthcare facilities with personnel who can apply improvement methodology to effect change, implement evidence-based practice and address problems identified during root cause analyses
  • designing effective solutions using plan, do, study, act (PDSA) tests of change
  • awareness of microsystem re-engineering, human factors and reliable design principles
  • foundation in measuring for quality using statistical process control charts
  • spreading and sustaining change and improvement
  • developing healthcare leaders

The IS methodology provides a framework so that participants can undertake a comprehensive diagnostic of the causes of process failures, which lead to inefficiencies and/or patient harm, and design solutions to improve patient care.

Program structure

The CEC/RACP IS training program runs over 1 year and is supported by an initial 2-day face to face IS training workshop as well as online resources.

Participants are required to undertake a local improvement project which is related to a clinical service where challenges have been identified. It is the intent of the CEC and the RACP that the outcome and documentation of these projects should be of a publishable standard. It will be the responsibility of the Trainee to ensure that their project meets any and all ethical review requirements.

Each participant will have a supervisor, as for all RACP projects, and will also have a co-supervisor with expertise in IS.

Intake for the IS program is limited. If applications exceed the maximum number of program positions, each application will be reviewed and successful trainees informed of their acceptance prior to Tuesday 25 March 2020.

Selection criteria

Trainees are required to:

  • be registered as an Advanced Trainee with the RACP or have become a Fellow of the RACP within the past 2 years
  • be undertaking a RACP-accredited clinical rotation in NSW between April 2020 and March 2021
  • demonstrate commitment to self-directed learning
  • possess skills in verbal and written communication to enable implementation of clinical practice improvement
  • have a willingness to lead and influence others
  • be able to work effectively with a broad range of clinicians and managers
  • have an interest in creating a work environment that supports a learning culture and building the capability and potential of the clinical team
  • have the desire to use routinely collected data more effectively to improve clinical practice

Trainees are likely to have many competing priorities and be extremely busy. For this reason, the program delivery will be as flexible as possible. There will be minimal pre-workshop reading to undertake and the clinical improvement project can be tailored to fit within the participant’s work schedule. 

IS project recommendation

It is recommended that participants choose a project related to a rotation they will be on shortly after the IS workshop. To manage the project within your current workload, it is recommended that participants are in the same team at the beginning and the end of the project.

It is a requirement that the project team is interdisciplinary. Our experience has shown that involving other professional disciplines and a patient or family member in the project team has been most effective for project outcomes and participant satisfaction.

When IS program applications close, each trainee will need to have chosen a project idea and discussed it with their intended RACP supervisor. Further project discussion will occur at the face-to-face workshop held on the 10 and 11 March 2020.

Following the workshop, supervisors will be put in contact with co-supervisors/senior clinicians familiar with IS methodology, who are willing to provide advice throughout the project’s duration.

Support materials will be provided to each participant via email as well as online, in addition to several training modules.

Second team member

Participants are invited to bring along another member of the broader clinical team, for example a nurse or physiotherapist, for the CPI workshop. This enables the participant to gain a more rounded view of the methodology from a different perspective within the larger team.


RACP responsibilities

Participants can expect:

  • contact every 2 months to provide support
  • advice related to College project requirements

CEC responsibilities

Participants can expect:

  • calls twice a month to provide support and offer advice regarding CPI project team and issues related to the CPI project
  • to be provided electronic resources and templates and online learning options
  • an experienced faculty to guide participants in CPI methodology

Supervisors can expect:

  • Supervisors can expect support in the principles of Clinical Practice Improvement methodology as outlined below
  • An introductory WebEx to outline program requirements within the first month
  • Mentoring as required from senior CEC staff

Participant responsibilities

Participants are to:

  • initiate and maintain contact with their RACP supervisor for the duration of the IS Program
  • initiate and maintain contact with their quality manager in the LHD and their Director of Clinical Governance
  • have a central leadership role in driving their local CPI project
  • actively participate in the program activities and use opportunities to learn from daily challenges to maximise 'patient-centred' outcomes
  • complete mandatory components of the course:
    • have an idea for a project prior to March 2020
    • attend a 2-day CPI face-to-face training course during March 2020 in Sydney
    • complete all available online modules
    • 3 x phone calls per month with improvement coach at the CEC
    • submit final project presentation and abstract by February 2021
    • a short de-identified patient safety questionnaire before and after the course

Participant benefits

Participants will:

  • develop a broad understanding of quality and safety, areas which are becoming increasingly important in clinical care, clinical relationships and medical management
  • learn a contemporary approach to improvement using driver diagrams
  • develop skills which will be of value for future clinical leaders
  • have the opportunity to publish projects or present your project at national and international conferences – as done by a number of past participants

Whilst many CPI projects meet RACP project requirements for an Advanced Training project, this is examined on a case-by-case basis and any trainee who would like this project to serve a dual purpose should contact their RACP Education Officer directly for advice.

Fees and costs

Participants do not pay any program fees.

The CEC covers the cost of the program and the RACP covers the cost of venue and material handouts.

The clinician/LHD will need to cover costs associated with time release, including backfill, as well as travel and accommodation if required.

Key dates

Application deadline
24 February 2020
Mandatory 2-day Clinical Practice Improvement Workshop
10 & 11 March 2020
'Aim' statement submission (to CEC)
28 April 2020
WebEx for RACP supervisors (of participants)
Project commenced and first interdisciplinary CPI team meeting
Before 20 April 2020
Mid-point review (participants must attend to present their project to date)
13 October 2020
Presentation and abstract submission
17 February 2021
Final presentation of project, poster and abstract
24 February 2021

Initial workshop

Date: Tuesday 10 March 2020, 8:30am to Wednesday 11 March 2020, 4:30pm
Venue: RACP Council Room, Level 4, 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW
Host: RACP and the Clinical Excellence Commission

The initial workshop will be delivered by a range of experts who have worked extensively in the areas of clinical practice improvement in a clinical context.

Workshop program

Day 1
08:30 Registration
09:00 Welcome
Acknowledgment to Country
09:15 The business case for quality improvement
10:15 Morning tea
11:00 Improvement Science Methodology
QI tools and techniques to approach your clinical challenge
11:30 Project teams, aim statements, flowcharting, brainstorming
12:30 Lunch
13:15 Improvement tools and group work
Measurement for Improvement
Affinity diagram, primary drivers, secondary drivers
Outcome measures, process measures, balancing measures
15:45 Working afternoon tea
15:55 Possible solutions, impact matrix
17:00 Close
Day 2
08:30 Welcome
Recap Day 1
08:40 Measure for improvement
10:00 Morning tea
10:15 PDSA cycles
10:45 Sustaining and spreading improvement
11:30 Past participants' posters
12:30 Lunch
13:15 Project consultation (20 minutes each)
15:00 Working afternoon tea
15:10 Next steps
Workshop evaulation
16:30 Close


Interested trainees and new Fellows must apply for the 2020 Improvement Science Program by Monday 24 February 2020.

Apply now

For enquiries about the program, email RACPNSW@racp.edu.au


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