While it’s easy to say that you want to enter the medical industry and build a career, many people are surprised upon investigating the industry when they discover just how many different jobs exist within it. The medical field is home to a wide variety of different professions, and you don’t just have to be a nurse or doctor to enjoy all the benefits that are offered by the healthcare field. One option you may want to consider is to become a quality improvement specialist.
A quality improvement specialist will work to improve medical care in a number of different ways, but they are generally a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of worker who rarely works directly with patients. Instead, they focus on improving the overall level of medical care that a patient will receive when they visit a health facility. Even though the patient may never even know that such a position exists, it can have a tremendous impact on the kind of care they receive.
What Is a Quality Improvement Specialist?
Just as the name suggests, a quality improvement specialist is someone who works to improve the overall quality of care that a health facility delivers to patients and their families. There are a huge number of different areas that a facility must cover, and as such the quality improvement specialist will need to look at a number of areas, ranging from customer service to staff training to risk management and beyond.
Here are some of the things a quality improvement specialist will likely focus their time on.
- Gathering data from the facility related to clinical results and more
- Analyzing the different methods that care is delivered and managed
- Locating problems that continue to arise with regularity and then addressing those issues
- Review all applicable laws, regulations, and compliance issues and then check to see if they are met at the facility
- Interview employees to determine their level of knowledge concerning proper patient care
- Develop new programs and protocols that lead to improved care
- Continue to monitor and evaluate the development and results of all improved programs and initiatives to determine their results, then modify as needed
In general, a quality improvement specialist will take all the steps needed to ensure that their facility meets all regulations, reaches appropriate benchmarks, and that patient satisfaction is as high as it can be.
Nature of the Work
A quality improvement specialist will usually work in one of two capacities – either as a freelance consultant, or as a full time employee of a particular facility or organization. Each one has pros and cons, and considering them both is worth doing. Many consulting firms have a place for these professionals, or one may work on their own.
As for the specific nature of the job, it usually involves office work for the most part. Although taking time to interview employees and examine different departments firsthand may be required as well. As a result, the job will vary to some degree and allow you to exit the office at times.
The work itself is a combination of paperwork, analyzation of data, and compiling information to create reports for others in the facility.
Education and Training
In most cases, assuming a role as a quality improvement specialist will require you to possess at least a master’s degree in a field like nursing, public health, epidemiology, health care administration, or some similar area of study. You’ll also need to gain at least three to four years’ worth of experience in a clinical setting, and experience in the field of quality improvement as well. It’s a very demanding position, and one that will require you to be one of the best in your field.
Along with your training and experience, honing your leadership, organization, and critical thinking skills is a good idea as well since they will likely be instrumental in your performance in the job.
Quality improvement specialists earn an average of $54,000 per year, plus benefits. They’re also very in demand, and the need for them is expected to increase by 14 percent over the next decade. Those two figures mean that this is one position worth considering, and that the effort put into reaching it will likely be well worth it.