New Online Master’s in Health Care Leadership

A new master’s degree at Georgetown teaches health care professionals how to enhance patient safety and improve quality in an increasingly complex heath care system. The executive master’s in clinical quality, safety and leadership (CQSL), developed by Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) in collaboration with MedStar Health, is entirely online apart from a four-day on-campus residency, allowing professionals to complete the program in 16 months while continuing to work. The learner-centered course also includes simulation, team training, and a mentored capstone project.

The unique program emphasizes community outreach and the Jesuit principle of cura personalis. “It’s hard to imagine providing care of the whole person if attention to quality care and patient safety is missing,” says Anne Gunderson, associate dean for innovation in clinical education at GUMC and leader of the program’s development.

Many medical and nursing schools do not provide enough quality and safety training, she adds. “There is basic training required by accreditation bodies, but it does not adequately prepare physicians and nurses for the complexity of medicine in today’s world.”

This can lead to medical errors—a serious problem that affects both patients and the health care workers involved. “Many good physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care

professionals have left the field due to depression and lack of support from their colleagues,” Gunderson adds. She hopes to see a shift from an emphasis on institutional risk management to an integrated and comprehensive focus on patient safety and quality care.

The eight courses that make up the degree come largely from disciplines outside medicine including cognitive psychology, human factors engineering, and organizational management science. The program is designed to develop leaders in the advancement of safety science and quality health care who will go on to train others in their institutions, Gunderson says.