A Multi-State Assessment of Employer-Sponsored Quality Improvement Education for Early-Career Registered Nurses

This study examines quality improvement (QI) education and participation among a cohort of early-career RNs. Less than one-third of registered nurses (RNs) reported being very prepared across all measured QI topics.

In addressing health care quality issues, registered nurses (RNs) can play an important role by both leading and participating in quality improvement (QI). This study specifically examines QI education and participation among a cohort of early-career RNs to better understand preparation, participation, and effectiveness of employer-sponsored QI education.

RNs licensed to practice for the first time between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008 in 15 states were randomly sampled between January and March 2009. The analytic sample included 400 respondents. Information about QI activities was collected using a survey with 35 questions.

Key Findings:

  • Five QI models were measured: 26.8 percent of RNs reporting being “very prepared” in Continuous Quality Improvement, followed by Plan, Do, Study, and Act (17.8%).
  • Nearly one-third of RNs reported being “very prepared” in flowcharting processes, measuring current performance, data collection, and using tools and methods to improve performance.
  • More than 50 percent of RNs reported receiving no training across the 14 measured QI activities in the previous 12 months.
  • Among respondents, 25.4 percent of RNs reported attending a QI training course or conference per their employer, and 31.7 percent reported participating in an online QI course.

Additionally, the use of high-quality, accessible QI tools and resources can help hospitals in their RN QI education.