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In early 2020, personnel involved with the Anesthesiology Department’s quality assurance, residency, and research programs convened in an effort to address two pressing concerns. One of these was that Quality Improvement (QI) activities by residents had a tendency to begin well, with real enthusiasm and smooth progress, but then gradually lose priority as the pressures and obligations of residency won out. Another was the ACGME’s announcement that it would begin expecting more documentation of residents’ significant involvement in QI. The department needed a way to ensure both progress and documentation.

The group settled on a solution involving the creation of a centralized hub for resident QI activities, and the use of project-management software for tracking and documentation. The Smartsheet software platform was selected for this purpose, largely due to its widespread usage within HSC.

Successes: The Smartsheet platform is highly customizable, and suitable to the tracking of multiple projects. Anesthesiology’s use of it for this purpose includes an intake form for new projects, a dashboard summarizing the department’s overall quality-improvement activity level, and a spreadsheet containing useful information and relevant documents. The system can provide lists of projects by resident or by mentor, identify residents without active projects, and record the last date of contact on any given project, to help pinpoint those at risk of losing momentum. This intake and tracking system was introduced to the department on May 1, 2020, and has been in continuous use since. Users involved with administration of the department’s residency and quality programs have appreciated the centralized repository of information and documentation.

Challenges: When establishing a tracking system, it can be difficult to predict which information and features would be useful. There is a dynamic interplay between the capabilities of a given setup, the awareness and expectations of the users, and the inherent capabilities of the technological platform. Others who adopt similar approaches to resident project management should anticipate a transition period as the system is tailored toward specific needs. However, Smartsheet’s flexibility does allow recorded parameters to be added or removed “on the fly,” so most adjustments are easy to make.

Conclusion: Centralization of resident QI activity management has yielded marked improvements for multiple stakeholders, and project management software offers a convenient way to record, track, and report on QI projects’ status at the individual and departmental levels.


Presented at the University of New Mexico GME/CPL 2021 Annual Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Symposium.



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