Bendermacher GWG, De Grave WS, Wolfhagen IHAP, Dolmans DHJM, Oude Egbrink MGA.
This study sought to identify key features of an organizational quality culture and explore how these features contribute to continuous quality improvement of undergraduate medical education.
Between July and December 2018, researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands conducted a multicenter focus group study among 6 education quality advisory committees. Participants were 22 faculty and 18 student representatives affiliated with 6 medical schools in the Netherlands. The group interviews focused on quality culture characteristics in relation to optimizing educational development, implementation, evaluation, and (further) improvement. Template analysis, a stepwise type of thematic analysis, was applied to analyze the data.
Five main themes resembling quality culture constituents to continuous educational improvement were identified: (1) fostering an open systems perspective, (2) involving stakeholders in educational (re)design, (3) valuing teaching and learning, (4) navigating between ownership and accountability, and (5) building on integrative leadership to overcome tensions inherent in the first 4 themes. A supportive communication climate (which can be fueled by the organization's leaders) contributes to and is integrated within the first 4 themes.
The results call for a shift away from static quality management approaches with an emphasis on control and accountability toward more flexible, development-oriented approaches focusing on the 5 themes of a culture for continuous quality improvement. The study provides new insights in the link between theory and practice of continuous quality improvement. Specifically, in addition to quality management systems and structures, faculty's professional autonomy, collaboration with peers and students, and the valuing of teaching and learning need to be amplified.