Integration of medical students within improvement teams to optimise practice based improvement education

Mechanisms of Improvement

Medical Students as Agents of Change: A qualitative exploratory study of student and staff experiences

Research aim

The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives and experiences of medical students and their mentors after undertaking quality improvement projects within the healthcare setting, and if such practice-based experiences were an effective way of building improvement capacity and changing practice.

What this research explored

A qualitative interpretive description methodology, using focus groups with medical students and semi-structured interviews with academic and clinical mentors following completion of students’ 4-week quality improvement projects was adopted.

The findings indicate that there are a range of facilitators and barriers to undertaking and completing quality improvement projects in the clinical setting, such as time-scales, differing perspectives, roles and responsibilities between students and multidisciplinary healthcare professionals.

What this study adds

This study has demonstrated that quality improvement experiential learning can develop knowledge and skills among medical students and transform attitudes towards quality improvement. Furthermore, it can also have a positive impact on clinical staff and healthcare organisations. Despite inherent challenges, undertaking quality improvement projects in clinical practice enhances knowledge, understanding and skills, and allows medical students to see themselves as important influencers of change as future doctors.

Benefits and impact

  • The benefits of incorporating students into quality improvement teams:
    • for teams;
    • for students.


This project was led by Professor Peter Davey, Medical School Lead for Clinical Quality Improvement, University of Dundee, in conjunction with colleagues from the School of Medicine and School of Health Sciences at the University of Dundee and staff and students within NHS Tayside.

For more information please contact SISCC (

Related Publications:

Medical students as agents of change: a qualitative exploratory study (2018)  


Academic Health Science Partnership in Tayside

Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM) 

An evaluation of approaches used to teach quality improvement to pre-registration healthcare professionals: An integrative review 

Quality Improvement - training for better outcomes 

Medical education for healthcare improvement 

Time, fear and transformation: Student nurses’ experiences of doing a practicum (quality improvement project) in practice  

Measuring outcomes in quality improvement education: success is in the eye of the beholder  

Interprofessional, student-led intervention to improve insulin prescribing to patients in an Acute Surgical Receiving Unit