Empowering junior doctors: a qualitative study of a QI programme in South West England
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
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Aim: To explore how the South-West Foundation Doctor Quality Improvement programme affected foundation year 1 (F1) doctors’ attitudes and ability to implement change in healthcare. Methods Twenty-two qualitative interviews were carried out with two cohorts of doctors. The first F1 group before and after their participation in the QI programme; the second group comprised those who had completed the programme between 1 and 5 years earlier. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis techniques. Results Prior to taking part in the QI programme, junior doctors’ attitudes towards QI were mixed. Although there was agreement on the importance of QI in terms of patient safety, not all shared enthusiasm for engaging in QI, while some were sceptical that they could bring about any change. Following participation in the programme, attitudes towards QI and the ability to effect change were significantly transformed. Whether their projects were considered a success or not, all juniors reported that they valued the skills learnt and the overall experience they gained through carrying out QI projects. Participants reported feeling more empowered in their role as junior doctors, with several describing how they felt ‘listened to’ and able to ‘have a voice’, that they were beginning to see things ‘at systems level’ and learning to ‘engage more critically’ in their working environment. Conclusions Junior doctors are ideally placed to engage in QI. Training in QI at the start of their medical careers may enable a new generation of doctors to acquire the skills necessary to improve patient safety and quality of care.