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Strategy Submission

Student Innovator Award


Sharen Ziska



Nursing Instructor I


Darla Mack, MSN, RN, Nursing Instructor I Elaine Patalski, CRNP, MSN, Nursing Instructor II


University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Shadyside School of Nursing


Competency Categories:

Quality Improvement

Learner Level(s):

Pre-Licensure ADN/Diploma

Learner Setting(s):

Classroom, Clinical Setting

Strategy Type:

Case Studies

Learning Objectives:

Learning objectives Students will:

Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of rapid-cycle improvement concepts
Identify clinical implications for improving safety and quality of patient care
Implement work redesign initiatives for improving patient safety in the practice environment
Function as a change agent while working within an active quality collaborative
Practice leadership behaviors that strengthen teamwork and promote patient safety
QSEN Quality Improvement KSA’s:

K = Describe approaches for changing process of care.
S = Design a small test of change in daily work (using an experiential learning method such as Plan-Do-Check-Act)
S = Use measures to evaluate the effect of change
A = Appreciate the value of what individuals and team can do to improve care

Strategy Overview:

A student innovator award was developed to recognize the professional role transition student who demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality and safety of patient care by showing outstanding initiative and leadership qualities in the development and evaluation of a test of change project. The award was modeled after the nationally recognized Josie King Patient Safety Award and provides a foundation for professional development. TCAB rapid-cycle quality improvement concepts have been integrated into classroom and clinical educational methods during this senior-level course. Classroom instruction consists of a brainstorming session designed to help the students identify clinical implications for improving safety and quality of patient care. Students are then instructed on the PDSA rapid-cycle improvement concepts to create work redesign initiatives for improving patient safety in the practice environment. During clinical application, students function as change agents as they collaborate with nursing and inter-professional teams to implement and evaluate their identified test of change project. The students perform a poster presentation of their test of change projects to the class as a course requirement. At the completion of the class presentations, faculty nominate students for the student innovator award based on specific process improvement criteria. The student nominees are then required to present their test of change projects to a selection committee consisting of two nurse mangers from TCAB designated units, one improvement specialist, and two professional role transitions course coordinators. The winner is chosen based on specific process improvement criteria, collaboration and sustainability of test of change and is presented with an award during the graduation ceremony.

Submitted Materials:

Additional Materials:

Evaluation Description:

Since January 2007, there have been 221 graduate nurses exposed to the TCAB process improvement methodologies, completing 91 improvement projects on 35 nursing units in 7 different system hospitals. With the introduction of a student innovator award in June 2008 faculty have documented a significant improvement in the quality of improvement projects, level of student commitment and a greater impact on improving patient care. Students have demonstrated a more comprehensive understanding of process improvement principles with the ability to carry these concepts into their professional practice. The nurse managers and improvement specialist who participated on the selection committee were impressed by the students’ passion for creating a safer environment for patients and plan to implement the student project ideas on their own units.
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