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Attaining quality college education is vital in determining the career path of an individual. Governments and learning institutions ensure that they avail education to all the individuals who are in need of college education. However, some students have little knowledge in the course they enroll. Students who have little knowledge in the courses they are undertaking are more likely to fail than other students who knowingly chose the course. This necessitates the provision of career guidance in institutions of higher learning to enable the students to choose courses that will lead them to career paths that they prefer. In addition, interviewers of potential students should use tools that would enable them to identify the “right” students for the course.
CQI for Respiratory Therapy
Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is an ongoing process of data collection, evaluation, and improvement. The continuity of the process makes it a culture rather than a program undertaken by an organization from time to time. CQI ensures the commitment of an organization to the provision of better quality at the lowest possible cost. All organization’s activities should reflect its commitment to CQI (Fitzpatrick, Glasgow & Young, 2003). Thus, organizations that have excellent CQI have a competitive advantage over their rivals.
CQI will attempt to improve the quality of education that the students undertaking the Respiratory Therapy receive. This would make the students and, consequently, the school be highly regarded. This is contrary to the contemporary times when professionals question the quality of instructors and students in undertaking the program. CQI would thus help in improving the tarnished image of the school. Many CQI tools are available for the improvement of the competitiveness of a given organization. FOCUS-PDCA is one of the various tools that the school may use in solving problems related to the Respiratory Therapy course.
The FOCUS-PDCA is a systematic technique used for process improvement. FOCUS-PDCA uses the information on how a process is currently performing to meet its clients’ needs in planning and testing process changes (Parsons, Murdaugh & O'Rourke, 1998). This model incorporates the following steps:
- Finding a process that needs improvement;
- Organizing a team that understands the process;
- Clarifying the current knowledge of the process;
- Understanding the reasons for process variation;
- Selection of the process improvement;
- Planning the improvement;
- Do data collection and analysis;
- Check for improvements;
- Act to continue and maintain the improvement (Schiller, Miller-Kovach & Miller, 1994).
F – Finding a Process that Needs Improvement
The respiratory department of the school faces many problems. The department lacks a sufficient number of staff making it offer poor quality services. In addition, the students do not have the required information on various courses offered by the department. Respiratory Therapy program seems to be the course that the students have remarkably little knowledge of despite enrolling in the course. The poor quality of services coupled with little knowledge from students made them have no expertise in the field even when beginning clinical rotations. This made the hospital and members of the community question the validity of the programs offered in the school.
O – Organizing a Team That Understands the Process
Members of the CQI team are responsible for coming up with strategies that would lead to the solution of the recruitment problem that the school has. Thus, the team should comprise of individuals from both internal and external parties. The team comprised of three respiratory therapists from different clinical sites, a departmental physician, and a minister from the community.
Since the respiratory therapists work in the clinics where students undertake clinical rotations, they would be able to identify some of the students’ problems. They would thus help in the formulation of strategies that would make the students excellent respiratory therapists. The departmental physician would come in handy in the formulation of strategies that would improve the quality of learning since he/she is aware of the schools policies. In addition, the departmental physician interacts with the students on a daily basis and may know the sources of some of the problems. A minister has intricate knowledge of the needs of the community. He would help in the formulation of strategies that meet the needs and expectations of the community and are morally right.
C – Clarifying the Current Knowledge of the Process
This step aims at clarifying some of the practices that the school currently undertakes in Quality Improvement (McGuire, Yarbro & Ferrell, 1995). The school attempts to enroll as many students as possible. Sometimes, this leads to the enrollment of students to certain programs without having clear knowledge what the field is about. The school has inefficient student screening methods that it uses prior to the admission of the students to various programs. Student enrollment takes place immediately after a quick tour of the buildings and departments. Guidance on the courses that the school offers is of no priority to the management of the school. The activities of the enrollment policy of the school seem to relegate CQI to the sidelines. Thus, the CQI team members have to make sure that they convince the organization to change its enrollment policy for the program.
U – Understanding the Reasons for Process Variation
A closer look at the problems facing the Respiratory Therapy program reveals that the school does not appreciate the program. The therapy department lacks the sufficient number of staff. In addition, even after facing criticism from the medical community, the school does not want to change its policies to improve the program. Resistance to change by the management of the school may be due to the success of some of the programs that use the same enrollment policy but are successful.
S – Selection of the Process Improvement
The FOCUS cycle concludes with the selection of the appropriate quality project. This initiates the PDCA cycle. The favorable project should have the biggest impact on improving the quality of education. The CQI group chose improvement of the screening of students as the most favorable project. The project would ensure that most suited students undertake the Respiratory Therapy course. These students should perform better than students who undertake the course unwillingly. This is a bottom-up approach to dealing with the quality issues in the school. However, in choosing this project, the CQI group assumes that the school would have highly qualified and professional teachers to train students.
The FOCUS phase helps in organizing the CQI team and determines what needs improvement. This initiates the PDCA cycle. The PDCA cycle should focus on particular aspects of the selected process. Thus, the team should begin by determining precisely the part of the project that needs critical evaluation. The favorable criteria used in the selection of the process should include the practicability of changing the selected process (Zuzelo, 2010).
P – Planning the Improvement
This constitutes a systematic progression of details that will accomplish the change. There should be no simultaneous tackling of complex processes. In addition, the CQI group should determine whether the implementation of the project should be through the pilot program or on a large scale (Zuzelo, 2010).
Training of the CQI members is one of the key steps in the implementation as it equips the CQI members with the necessary skills needed to undertake the activity. The CQI members should determine where to source the trainers. Since the CQI group will be working in collaboration with the enrolment department, it must look for the means of cultivating an enviable relationship with the members of the department. The group should also determine all the data that are relevant, necessitating its analysis in the project.
D – Do Data Collection and Analysis
The next step is ensuring the implementation of the proposed interventions. The biggest challenge of this stage is ensuring consistent and correct implementation of the changes (Zuzelo, 2010). Training of the individuals who would undertake the plan should be the first task (McGuire, Yarbro & Ferrell, 1995). It is critical to ensure that the training of CQI team members on interviewing the prospective respiratory therapy students kicks off one week before the admission of students. In addition, there should be the training of the CQI members on the expectations of the school on the students upon the completion of the course. This would enable the interviewers to ask relevant questions during the interviews and collect data appropriately.
Training paves the way for the CQI members to undertake interviews on the prospective respiratory therapy students. Members of the enrollment department should take part in interviewing the prospective students. Some of the data that the members of the CQI department should collect is on the academic history of the prospective students, reasons for wanting to undertake the course, and their expectations. Upon the enrollment of the students, the CQI team members should track the academic development of the students. The group should collect data of three groups of students from the entry up to the time when they finish the course.
C – Check for Improvements
Upon implementing the changes and collecting data, the CQI team members should check “for improvements, deteriorations, or no change in the status quo” (Zuzelo, 2010, p.270). The CQI team members should check whether there is an improvement in the knowledge of students during clinical rotations. In addition, CQI should check whether there is a co-relation between the students’ academic history and their ability to grasp ideas taught in the respiratory therapy course. The CQI should also determine whether the measures that they have taken have been successful in improving the image of the school in the medical community. If there is no change in the status quo, the team should undertake an analysis of the implementation of the change.
A – Act to Continue and Maintain the Improvement
This is the final step of the Continuous Quality Improvement. At this stage, the CQI team members determine whether to amend, abandon, or adopt the change (Zuzelo, 2010). The CQI undertakes strategies aimed at maintaining the improvements, if there were any. The results of the evaluation form the basis of the strategies. The success of the project initiates its full implementation. In addition, the management should formulate plans of monitoring the project in the future. Amendments may facilitate the implementation of the project into other courses offered by the school (McGuire, Yarbro & Ferrell, 1995). Updating the policies and procedures of the school to be in line with the changes implemented and enlightening the key personnel is the last step taken at this stage. This may mean changing the enrollment policy of the course. The clinical director of the school may also look for means of continuously improving the process (Zuzelo, 2010).
The implementation of the project would tremendously assist in improving the quality of education offered in the Respiratory Therapy program. This would make the school produce respiratory therapists who would be renown in the medical community. However, this project is not only beneficial to the respiratory department. Its application to other programs offered by the school will help to improve the quality of the programs. The school should take measures to ensure its implementation and incorporation in school’s enrollment policy.
In undertaking the project, the general assumption was that the school has highly qualified trainers. The inability of the students to undertake some activities during clinical rotations was due to their individual shortcomings. The other key assumption was that the quality of training offered by the teachers would not diminish after the implementation of the project.
Continuous Quality Improvement is a philosophy that every organization should embrace in order to retain its competitiveness. The school should ensure that there is an amendment of its enrollment policy to improve its image. FOCUS-PDCA is the most favorable model that the school should use in its CQI. The implementation of the project in other programs of the school would turn the school into a renowned institution of learning.
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