Quality and Innovation in Healthcare Scholarly Concentration

This concentration trains future clinicians to improve quality, safety and efficiency in healthcare systems. Students are immersed in a hospital, clinic or health department as they implement and assess practical solutions to real-world problems. By participating in interactive, workshop-style courses alongside various healthcare professionals, students master widely recognized approaches for continuous improvement and design thinking. Through completion of coursework and a scholarly project in quality improvement, students earn Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

This concentration provides students a tool set that can be used in any specialty throughout their careers. While cutting-edge technologies and scientific discoveries are important in medicine, simple changes – such as reducing time or waste in a process – can also have a dramatic impact on healthcare. Whether the problem is general or highly technical, all projects apply the same principles of innovation, data-driven decision-making, and continuous improvement.

Student Projects

This concentration is unique in that it is team-based, and coursework is integrated directly with student projects. Projects in quality improvement stem from urban and rural hospitals in Southwest Indiana as well as local health departments and nonprofits. Examples of recent projects include:

  • Working with the local Health Department to improve rates of HPV vaccination
  • Assessing clinical use of new technology to improve communication with non-English speaking populations
  • Working with a Post Discharge Clinic to reduce hospital readmission rates for high risk patients
  • Analyzing real-world utilization of IV’s and phlebotomy testing in different hospital branches

In past years, Evansville medical students have worked with Deaconess Hospital and Vanderburgh Health Department on various projects. Examples of projects with Vanderburgh Health Department could involve child mortality rates, food safety, drug abuse and mental health, home care for expectant mothers, or vaccination.

Co-Directors

Kara Garcia, PhD

Kara Garcia, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Radiology & Imaging Sciences
Kristin A. La Fortune, MD

Kristin A. La Fortune, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Evansville Campus MD Program

The IU School of Medicine Evansville campus offers a unique interprofessional experience, integrating medical students with graduate students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing and physician assistant science. The new state-of-the-art downtown facility also houses an IU Simulation Center, IU Dental Clinic, and Indiana CTSI Clinical Research Center. All of these resources may be used for the Scholarly Concentration.

Evansville is expanding residency programs, which also emphasize quality improvement and safety, allowing students to partner with residents on scholarly work. Lastly, as a city built on manufacturing, Evansville is home to industry leaders in quality improvement. Participation and mentorship from the local business community offers valuable opportunities to learn from quality and innovation experts outside of healthcare.