An experiential learning programme to develop quality improvement projects under the guidance of local experts

This page is aimed at people who work in medical education and training. It gives information about a mentoring programme that supports doctors in training to develop quality improvement projects.

What is the programme?

Since 2010 foundation doctors at the Severn Foundation School have had a formalised experiential learning programme to develop quality improvement projects under the guidance of local experts. The leads for each of the acute Severn trusts work together to share good ideas. This web of experts collaborates in order to spread project outcomes across Severn and into other educational areas.

How is mentoring integrated into the programme?

Foundation year 1 doctors are invited to undertake facilitated quality improvement projects to pursue lasting improvements in their trust. Participants choose their own projects with guidance from mentors. When they move into foundation year 2 they can then become the mentors for new entries. Doctors in training present their projects to trust boards at the end of the year, which shows the level of engagement of senior staff to this work and the importance of focusing on patient safety.

There have been many initiatives derived from the programme, including new fluid charts, new handover methods as well as new standardised equipment trolleys. This work is visible, practical and appreciated by the trust boards.

Detailed information

How the programme enhances patient safety

In North Bristol NHS Trust, evaluation shows that one benefit of the quality improvement projects is that junior doctors feel that they can raise issues of patient safety and that they have the power to make changes to improve patient safety.

A wider evaluation of the programme will use quantitative data, alongside interviews with participants since 2010. Current investigations show that foundation doctors are enthusiastic about the quality improvement programme and that it will continue to be implemented in years to come.

Easy adoption

This programme can be easily adopted elsewhere. The foundation doctors undertake the projects in their own time – as do the mentors. Having a clinical education fellow as a contact point and an organiser of the evening meetings is important. To spread the programme to other more senior doctors in training and to train more senior mentors, additional funding would be needed. However, the programme can be started easily in a small way and adapted to any healthcare organisation. Within Severn, the programme has spread to acute psychiatric trusts and participating doctors also undertake projects in primary care during their rotations.

I want to learn more

For further information, contact Katherine Finucane at