QI is an essential part of your F1 year that you may not have encountered before; it is easy to view it as a ‘box to tick’ to complete your ARCP. However, it can be a very rewarding experience. By choosing a project that you are passionate about, you can make a lasting difference. Not only can you enhance your CV, present your project at conferences and get a publication, but you can also improve patient care, save the NHS money and even make future junior doctor’s lives easier! So how do you go about making the most out of it?
Choose the right project
Don’t rush into choosing a project; you have nearly a year to complete it, so spend some time thinking about what you would like to do. Try to think about finding something that you are interested in; a particular speciality that interests you, a problem you come across in your day-to-day job, something that could help improve on-calls. The more you are involved, the less it will seem like a tick-box exercise! Spend some time chatting to some of the SHOs and the registrars – any niggles they have come across that you could help improve? The NHS and every hospital system have foibles and ‘quirks’ that frustrate and baffle us daily – make this your opportunity to untangle some of it. Your QI project may seem small and insignificant, but all added together, these can start to make a big difference! Check out MedProjectHub for project ideas or collaborate with others looking to work on a project.
Make contact with your local QI/Audit department
This is an often forgotten resource that can be a massive support to your project. They can help with sourcing patient notes, disseminating surveys and advice about how to present up your project.
Another essential factor to consider – is your project actually feasible? Will you be able to make a change? It’s unlikely that you will be able to solve ED wait times by suggesting three new registrars for the department, for example… Your QI facilitators, consultants and senior colleagues are an excellent resource for brainstorming ideas.
We didn’t, and we should have done; it was a huge rush at the end of the year that could have been avoided! Typically there are a few stages of data collection; the first set will allow you to plan your actions and helps to act as a control to show how much of a difference your project has made. Get started with a plan, delegate specific tasks amongst your team, and set up regular meetings to monitor progress.
What seems like a great idea in August might turn out to be not such a great idea once you’ve had a look at the first set of data. That’s ok! That’s why you started early; you have time to get stuck into something else.
Think about conferences early
Remember that you can boost your CV even with just a single project. Presenting your project at a local governance meeting gets you big points for training applications. Even better still, present your findings at a conference as either a poster or oral presentation. Look for these opportunities early on and establish when the deadlines are for abstract submissions.