Matt Schorr
May 7, 2019

A Student-Led Approach to Integrating Hands-On Experience into Improvement Science Education


NASHVILLE, Tenn. Rohini Chakravarthy, MD/MBA Candidate at Vanderbilt, won the award for Best Poster for Completed Work at the Symposium on Implementation Research in the Learning Health System, which took place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on May 6, 2019. Her poster, “A Student-Led Approach to Integrating Hands-On Experience into Improvement Science Education,” highlights a partnership between Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the Shade Tree Clinic, Vanderbilt’s student-run health clinic.

All Vanderbilt students are required to complete a Quality Improvement (QI) project as part of the Foundations of Healthcare Delivery Course, which provides didactic QI education.


Shade Tree

Shade Tree has developed a successful model which links students seeking to fulfill this curricular requirement to clinically meaningful projects. The student Research Directors at the Shade Tree Clinic serve as a liaison between students, clinical leadership and course directors to connect students to a variety of ongoing projects which meet the students’ interests, curricular requirements and clinical needs of the clinic. This partnership has led 35 projects in three years. Some successful projects included improvements in documentation of smoking status to guide clinical intervention, as well as improvements in completion rates of Patient Assistance Program applications for free prescriptions from manufacturers which resulted in cost savings for the clinic.

The proposed format could be applied in other clinical settings and lead to meaningful QI education for students and improved patient care. This work was coauthored with Tamala Bradham, Eleanor Weaver, Michael Fowler and Robert Miller, and was supported by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the CTSA/VICTR Learning Health System Platform.

You can learn more about the Symposium here.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.