VA Quality Scholars: Applications due
VA Quality Scholars (VAQS)
The VAQS fellowship program began in the late 1990’s and has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive and established Quality Improvement (QI) training programs in North America. This two year research program designed to nurture fellows and junior faculty to develop a career in research, in QI and health services, or in QI within the framework of leadership in medical administration, education, or clinical practice. The VAQS program is intended for health care professionals in advanced stages of training or junior faculty who would like to pursue academic careers in quality improvement and patient safety.
The VAQS program is designed using a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The program center (hub) is at Baylor University Medical School where local faculty run the program centrally, and work in direct partnership with the VA Office of Academic Affiliations, which oversees all Special Fellowship Programs in the VA. There are eight other sites (spokes) in different geographic locations across the United States.
Toronto is the ninth site and the only non-American site for the VAQS program. Sites function independently.
The two-year VAQS fellowship is comprised of four components:
- Weekly half-day meetings on Friday afternoons. These sessions take place at the downtown location of the Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (Hospital for Sick Children).The weekly curriculum is as follows:
- 1pm-2pm: in-person group meetings to discuss QI projects, present research, and discuss required course work. (Toronto site only)
- 2pm-3pm: two-way interactive videoconference (TWIV) sessions across all VAQS sites.
- Mandatory attendance at the VAQS Summer Institute in Houston, Texas. For 2019/2020, dates are Tuesday, August 13th – Thursday August 15th, 2019.
- Research project: fellows are expected to design and develop a research project of appropriate scope and breadth. They will be expected to present and discuss this project at various stages of development throughout the course. At the end of the program, fellows should be able to demonstrate that they have developed competencies needed to promote the scholarship, research and practice of quality improvement, either through publication, implementation of new knowledge or other demonstration of impact.
- Bi-annual one-on-one meetings with Course Co-Directors and Coordinators to discuss progress, participation and research and academic goals.
Who should consider the VAQS program?
VAQS is ideal for someone pursuing a career in clinical epidemiology or health services research with interests that relate to healthcare quality. A typical participant might be enrolled in a master's program in clinical epidemiology (or recently completed one) but want to learn some of the concepts and methods of quality improvement. The program also provides good networking opportunities for people who have taken or are enrolled in the MSc concentration in Quality Improvement and Patient Safety offered through IHPME . The networking involves participants and faculty at the eight US sites.
For those planning to lead local QI activities or to do scholarly work that is driven more by innovations in health services delivery than by the evaluation of these innovations, and then VAQS by itself is probably not the right choice. Occasionally, a person who already has some expertise and track record in QI plus a mentor with QI expertise, it might work out as the only form of advanced training en route to a faculty appointment. But, for most people hoping to make a career out of QI, VAQS should just be a supplement to other training in QI, such as a master’s degree with a core focus on quality improvement.
Further details, including how to apply, can be found on the C-QuIPS website.