Patient Safety Scholars Program

An Online Learning Community and Course

Fall 2014 – Spring 2015

Patient safety is a relatively new field in healthcare, started in response to studies in the 1990s reporting the troubling prevalence of harm caused by the health care system. In particular, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report in 1999, titled To Err is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System, which stated that 44,000 to 98,000 preventable deaths occur annually due to medical error in hospitals, with 7,000 preventable deaths related to medication errors alone. Despite media attention given to this report as well as many initiatives started because of it, most medical students still do not receive sufficient training in how to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors on a systems level.

It is a common misconception that errors occur mostly due to high risk procedures or individual incompetent health care providers. The truth is that medical errors occur at all levels of care due to systems failures (i.e. poor communication, poor design of care) and normal human factors. This scholars program is intended to give participants a comprehensive introduction to current challenges to patient safety and teach how students can work towards solutions, producing future leaders in the patient safety movement. Students will attend biweekly webinars given by experts in the field and have the opportunity to ask questions and network with other participants. Students who complete the program will have the chance to have a letter sent to their dean about their participation.


The Patient Safety Scholars Program Curriculum is based on the WHO’s Curriculum Guide for Patient Safety. Topics covered are:

  • What is patient safety?
  • What is human factors engineering, and why is it important to patient safety?
  • Understanding systems and the impact of complexity on patient care
  • Being an effective team player
  • Understanding and learning from errors
  • Understanding and managing clinical risk
  • Introduction to quality improvement methods
  • Engaging with patients and their caretakers
  • Minimizing infection through improved infection control
  • Patient safety and invasive procedures
  • Improving medication safety
  • Patient Perspectives on Medical Errors

Learning Objectives

By the end of the program, students should be able to:

  • Talk confidently to their peers about the importance of patient safety, causes of medical errors, and what contributes to a “safety culture”
  • Understand the importance of a systems approach to patient safety
  • Plan and execute their own Patient Safety-related Project (see below)
  • Feel empowered to become future leaders in Patient Safety

Participant Expectations

Selected participants must:

  • Attend all webinars. Missed sessions must be made up by reading a scholarly article on the topic or reviewing the webinar recording and writing a short reflection on what was learned.
  • Read any assigned articles.
  • Plan a Patient Safety-related project, to begin during the term of the scholars program. Scholars will have the support of the program coordinators and have access to experts in the field for help. Examples of projects could include: starting a hand washing campaign at your school/hospital, leading a patient safety-related discussion, or working with an expert in the field to contribute to the patient safety movement.
  • Submit post-webinar surveys to contribute to continually improving this scholars program.

Program Registration

Registration is now closed.

AMSA Student Member $35
Non-Member $135*

* Non-member fee includes AMSA membership, if applicable