Leadership in Quality Improvement Pathway

The Leadership in Quality Improvement Pathway was designed in line with the residency’s mission to prepare residents to become innovative leaders in health care. The pathway takes advantage of the internationally renowned Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS) to train residents in rigorous quality improvement methodology, leadership, and change management through one-on-one coaching and mentorship.


In July 2017, the Leadership in QI Pathway enrolled its first cohort of residents in the first and second year classes. The Pathway is open to residents with all career interests — primary care, hospitalist, or subspecialist — who match at Virginia Mason. The pathway features a longitudinal curriculum with protected time during electives for classes in quality improvement, leadership, and change management; meetings with various leaders within the institution; participation in quality improvement events; and finally completion of a capstone quality improvement project.



Residents in the Leadership in QI Pathway will attend classes in quality improvement taught by in-house experts in the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS). These classes compose the "VMPS for Leaders" curriculum, which is used to train leaders throughout the organization in VMPS methods. Residents will have a chance to learn alongside leaders from other departments, and will complete these classes throughout the first two years during protected half days on electives and the Systems-Based Practice rotation. Homework from each class will give residents a chance to apply their learning in a real clinical environment. This curriculum will give residents the foundation they need to complete a capstone quality improvement project.

Applied Learning and Capstone Project

In the first year, residents will start taking VMPS for Leaders classes during elective time, and will also complete the Systems-Based Practice rotation. During this rotation, they will participate in a quality improvement event, attend a Patient Safety Alert (PSA) resolution meeting, participate in a “flow tour” and attend weekly "report out" sessions and "stand up" meetings to learn more about improvement work throughout the organization, and meet with various quality leaders in the organization. There will also be ample time during the rotation to complete some of the applied learning homework assignments from formal VMPS classes.

During the end of the first year and beginning of the second year, residents are expected to start working on a Capstone Project. They will select a process and apply VMPS tools to gather data on the current state, identify waste, and develop team leadership and facilitation skills. After the initial data-gathering state, residents will lead a team first through a formal two-day event to generate and test ideas for improvement, and then through the post-event implementation process.

After finishing the Capstone Project, residents will gather post-event data to measure the effect of the changes they’ve implemented and present their results. Results may then be submitted as an abstract to be presented at a major conference or published in a quality improvement journal.


Throughout the three years, residents will receive extensive coaching and mentorship. Early in the first year, they will meet with the program director and former VMPS for Leaders graduates. They will be introduced to various potential mentors within the organization depending on their area of interest. In the beginning of their second year, residents will pick a sponsor for their Capstone Project who will help guide them through the process and assist in planning and implementation. In addition, residents will be assigned a coach from the Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) who is specialized in VMPS methods. Residents will report regularly on their classroom progress to their KPO coach, who will work with them one-on-one to learn how to apply VMPS tools to their chosen project. Third year residents who have completed VMPS for Leaders will be expected to serve as mentors for first and second year residents as well.

Leadership Training

In addition to the experience of planning and leading a quality improvement project, residents will meet with key physician and non-physician leaders throughout Virginia Mason. They will have the opportunity to attend classes to further hone their skills alongside other leaders in the organization. In addition, residents in the pathway will play a key role in mentoring other residents and promoting overall residency involvement in quality improvement activities. 

Selection Process

The ideal applicant for the pathway would have a passion for quality improvement and be willing to take initiative and work independently. Residents interested in the Leadership in QI Pathway must first match into either the categorical or primary care tracks. After matching at Virginia Mason, residents will be given the opportunity to apply.

Current Pathway Residents



Jaclyn Lemon


Ali Philander


Stephen Slade

Second Years


Alex Kardasheva


Jonathon Sargent


Peter Whooley