Patient Safety/Quality Improvement/Complex Systems

Better Care

  • If you've ever thought that patient care was too complicated or doesn't work the way it should,
  • If you want to keep patients safe from inadvertent harm,
  • If you wish you could make things run "smarter" and more smoothly,
  • If you want to make patients happier, and make care less bureaucratic and frustrating,

… then this path is for you.

The Patient Safety/Quality Improvement/Complex Systems (PS/QI/CS) Path of Excellence is designed for medical students interested in understanding how to improve care of their patients within complex health care systems. This Path provides students with tools and resources to improve the safety, quality, timeliness, efficiency and satisfaction for patients and providers at every level.

Working with content experts from across our Health System, students will not only gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of patient safety and quality care, but also participate in real-world experiences that align with their individual interests.

Jennifer S. Weizer, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Kellogg Eye Center and Co-Director of the Patient Safety, Quality Improvement, and Complex Systems Path of Excellence
Students and faculty at the Student Run Free Clinic

Through this Path, students learn to:

  • Understand characteristics of a complex system (CS), and witness first-hand how complexity can affect patient safety (PS) and quality of care.
  • Understand the role of quality in ensuring consistently good care of one’s patients.
  • Understand the concepts and tools involved in a “learning” health system.
  • Apply core concepts and tools of safety science to understand why adverse events occur.
  • Reduce or eliminate unintended harm to patients while providing care.
  • Utilize tools of improvement science, structured problem solving, and “lean thinking,” to improve health care and efficiency within and across individual, unit, and organizational levels.

Michigan Medicine clinical care facilities feature a robust patient safety and quality improvement infrastructure, with many initiatives in practice on a daily basis. Through the PS/QI/CS Path, students will access real-world experiences, such as:

  • Participating in ongoing clinical safety and quality activities such as daily huddles, worksite visits, and morbidity and mortality conferences in many different departments focusing on safety and quality.
  • Becoming members of safety teams and attending meetings at various organizational levels that address patient safety and quality.
  • Attending special events and exhibits such as the annual UMHS Quality Month each October featuring presentations and posters about more than 50 institutional PS/QI projects, and the annual Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety or CHEPS Open House presenting quality and safety projects.
  • Shadowing UMHS personnel leading or furthering PS/QI initiatives including those from the Michigan Quality System, Office of Clinical Affairs, Medical Group, Department of Learning Health Sciences, and CHEPS.


The PS/QI/CS Path of Excellence is flexible so that students and their mentors can prioritize the opportunities available in the curriculum according to their individual interests.

Students will begin developing their capstone projects after the M1 year and will complete the projects by the end of the M4 year. These projects will generally involve an effort to improve patient safety or the quality/efficiency of patient care. Students can work individually with a mentor or as part of a team.

Continuous improvement of the patient care experience is a hallmark of the University of Michigan Health System. Inviting medical students to the table in a more formalized structure with this Path of Excellence will not only advance their education, but also bring more voices to the conversation of how all of us as care providers working within a leading health care system can do things better.

F. Jacob Seagull, PhD, Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences and Co-Director of the Patient Safety, Quality Improvement, and Complex Systems Path of Excellence