New ACS Quality Improvement Course educates care teams on surgical quality and safety

A new course designed to ensure surgeons and their team members are well-educated on the basic principles of surgical quality and safety was released in November 2021 by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The ACS Quality Improvement Course: The Basics is a self-paced online course intended for surgeons and anyone else working in a surgical care setting with an interest in learning the fundamentals of quality improvement (QI).

“All stakeholders who are interested in QI should take the course in order to understand and use the same terminology as everyone else, be able to go through the steps of QI in a logical fashion, and be able to address common barriers to QI,” said Lillian Kao, MD, MS, FACS, professor, department of surgery, McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Dr. Kao collaborated with the ACS to develop the course.

The course includes the ACS Quality Improvement Course Workbook with activities to apply the course content to unique care settings.

There are six modules in the course, as follows:

  • Introduction to Quality Improvement
  • The Quality Improvement Process
  • Data Measurement and Analysis
  • Change Management
  • Patient Safety
  • Leadership and Teamwork for Quality Improvement

These modules help learners understand the basics of QI concepts, the rationale for investing in quality, how to begin a QI project, how data can be used to improve quality, how change happens, the role culture plays in improving patient safety, and how to develop and evaluate teamwork and leadership skills.

“I am very excited that we’re offering this QI course. It will help to optimize the improvement efforts being undertaken in all specialties and settings,” said Clifford Y. Ko, MD, MS, MSHS, FACS, FASCRS, Director, ACS Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care. “The course was designed for a broad audience of users—basically anyone who participates in improvement.”

Self-paced and interactive

The course, which takes an estimated 20 hours to complete, is accessed through a learning management platform developed with the latest e-learning technology. Course participants are encouraged to use all course materials: knowledge check questions, workbook activities, interactive infographics and application activities, summary videos, tools, and resources.

“The American College of Surgeons has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to surgical quality. Whether you are new to QI or looking to further your understanding of the fundamentals, this course will cover the core concepts of quality in an approachable and thoughtful format,” said Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS, ACS Executive Director.

The course was first previewed at the ACS Quality and Safety Conference, July 12–16, 2021. The self-paced course is available now and costs $249. Additional course formats will eventually be available, including a nine-month, instructor-led version of the course in which participants complete a QI project concurrently with the course.

“The modules in this course help participants understand the fundamentals of QI, which they can then implement on their QI journey,” said Immediate-Past ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. “This course is an important addition to ACS’ quality efforts and will help hospitals and their care teams better care for their patients.”

For more information, visit the ACS Quality Improvement Course: The Basics web page at or contact

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