Improvement Science Program

Formally known as Clinical Practice Improvement (CPI)

The Clinical Excellence Commission partners with Local Health Districts (LHDs) and Specialty Health Networks (SHNs) to provide a range of Improvement Science training for staff.

Improvement Science training aims to develop the capability of NSW Health staff and teams to improve the quality of the care and services they provide.

On completion of the training, participants are equipped to apply improvement methodology to effect change, implement evidence-based practice and improve safety.

About Improvement Science

The Improvement Science methodology is a framework that guides staff to effectively plan, undertake and evaluate an improvement project.

Initial steps involve using a range of tools to explore and understand the causes of problems/process failures which lead to reduced quality or harm. Targeted change ideas (possible solutions) can then be prioritised and tested via the Plan-Do-Study-Act model to improve patient care and outcomes (see figure 1). Only once a project team are confident of the effectiveness of the change will it be spread on a larger scale. In this way, improvements are more likely to be successfully sustained and spread.

Participants of the Improvement Science program are guided to apply the Institute of Healthcare Improvement's (IHI) Model For Improvement to plan their own local multidisciplinary improvement project. This includes developing a SMART aim statement and project evaluation strategy. Participants will also learn to develop a driver diagram to clearly plan and document a project and engage others in the improvement.

The Improvement Science program also builds participant capability and confidence to select and create a range of charts to display and interpret their project data to measure the impact of change ideas.

Figure 1: Model for Improvement & Plan Do Study Act cycle (PDSA - image adapted)

Figure 1: Model for Improvement & Plan Do Study Act cycle (PDSA - image adapted)

Face to face program delivery

The Improvement Science Program is offered in various ways to LHDs/SHNs:

One year program

  • Includes an initial 2 day Improvement Science Workshop, mid-point project review and graduation.
  • The 2 day workshop covers elements of improvement science and the Model For Improvement, project evaluation and measurement
  • Over the 12 month program, participants receive local support and guidance to apply their learning from the workshop to lead their own local, multidisciplinary project
  • Participants present the progress of their project at the end of program graduation

Two day only Improvement Science workshop

  • Participants may or may not pursue an improvement project after attending this stand-alone workshop
  • However staff who do attend the workshop with a specific project in mind, gain the most benefit from applying program content to plan their project to embed learning

Bespoke Improvement Science workshops (4hrs to full day)

  • The CEC can collaborate with LHDS / local departments to design and deliver tailored Improvement Science training to meet the local needs of their staff
  • This condensed program may be suitable for clinicians who are part of a project team and would benefit from learning the methodology

Building teaching faculty in improvement science

Improvement Science Train the trainer

  • Aims to build the capability and confidence of NSW Health staff to co-present with CEC facilitators at two-day Improvement Science workshops and to independently run a related workshop in their own LHD/SHN.
  • Important: This workshop does not target staff wanting to learn Improvement Science or how to develop a driver diagram. Workshop participants need to be very familiar with Improvement Science and Driver Diagrams before they attend the Train the Trainer session.
  • HETI Course code: 177983459

Learning objectives of two and one day Improvement Science workshops

On successful completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Plan an improvement project by answering the Three Questions in the Model for Improvement
  • Identify the causes of problems / process failures within a local healthcare unit / department that may be appropriate for an improvement project
  • Identify and engage an appropriate Project Sponsor
  • Build and facilitate an interdisciplinary quality improvement team to improve the problem at hand
  • Describe a range evidence based strategies for engaging staff in change
  • Identify the process for appropriate engagement of consumers in improvement projects
  • Identify local resources to support participants to lead an improvement project
  • Describe how to engage an Improvement Coach / Advisor
  • Develop a SMART aim statement with a measurable stretch goal
  • Describe how to undertake a literature review
  • Apply various diagnostic quality tools to identify all the causes of the problem under review
  • Describe the use of Flow Charting (Process Mapping), Brainstorming, the Five Whys, Affinity Diagrams and Driver Diagrams (or Cause & Effect diagrams).
  • Create and interpret data in a Pareto Chart and Histogram
  • Create a Run Chart and identify random and non-random data using the Run Chart Rules
  • Identify, prioritise and test relevant change ideas (possible solutions) using the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model
  • Differentiate between Outcome, Process and Balancing measures to evaluate an improvement project
  • Develop a plan for spreading, scaling and sustaining improvements

Workshops delivered in Local Health Districts / Networks

  • LHDs or clinical units can also arrange for the CEC to deliver the 2 day training at a suitable venue of their choice.

Virtual Education Delivery

Monthly Webinar (70 minute Virtual Education Offering)

The following 70 minute Webinars are delivered monthly and provide staff with a concise overview of Measurement and Improvement Science.

The timetable is available via the CEC Events Calendar.

Introduction to Run Charts, Pareto Charts and Basic Measurement

Improvement Science using a Driver Diagram (Recorded presentation)

  • 5 parts (total of 1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • Explains the steps and considerations to make when conducting a quality improvement project using a driver diagram

To register: Visit the CEC Events Calendar and select your workshop date.

Improvement Science using a Driver Diagram On demand Video series (Virtual Education Offering)

  • Accessible any time
  • This recorded Webinar series (5 short videos – Total 1 hour and 15 minutes) will explain the steps to take and considerations to make when conducting a quality improvement project using a driver diagram
  • Offered via HETI My Health Learning (HETI Course Code: 161814499)
  • or the CEC YouTube Channel.

Improvement FUNdamentals (by NHS England)

  • Free series of self-directed mini-courses providing a step by step guide to the preparation and delivery of an improvement project within the workplace
  • The courses are open for approximately 6 weeks
  • Involves videos, articles, discussion and practical exercises that contribute to your own improvement project
  • Each of the program's 4 learning areas (1. Quality improvement theory 2. Quality improvement tools 3. Measuring for quality improvement 4. Spreading quality improvement) will take just 2.5 hours to complete
  • Each week, expert facilitators from the NHS Sustainable Improvement team will answer questions and offer their insights in forums
  • Dates and registration

General program information

Who can apply?

Open to all NSW Health staff wanting to learn how to improve the safety and quality of their local care /service processes.


There is no formal assessment of the program. However, it is expected that participants will participate in practical sessions and be fully engaged in the program.

Depending on local requirements, participants of the 12 month program may be required to deliver a short presentation on the progress of their improvement project at a mid-point review and program graduation.

Program evaluation

Participants will be asked to give feedback at the conclusion of the program via a survey. It is an expectation that all participants complete the course evaluation survey.

Certificate of attendance

Electronic certificates of attendance will be issued on completion of the workshops.

CPD hours

This program will provide participants with continuing professional development (CPD) hours, as required by their respective National Board.

HETI Course Code: 133501515

Cost of two day workshops

  • Free for NSW Health staff
  • $660 for non NSW Health staff

Registration is via the CEC Events Calendar

Program contact

Name: Sonya Bubnij, Program Lead - Curriculum and Faculty Development
Phone: 02 9269 5588


 Sonya Bubnij

Sonya Bubnij

Program Lead - Curriculum and Faculty Development

RN MEd GradDip Clin Ed, ICU Cert

Sonya is a Registered Nurse with over 30 years' experience in NSW Health. Her past roles include Clinical Nurse Specialist in both Intensive Care and Community Aged Care, Clinical Nurse Educator for Community Palliative Care and Clinical Nurse Consultant for Surgery at St George Hospital. She has also been a Lecturer in charge of several undergraduate units at the Australian Catholic University.

Sonya has applied quality improvement methodologies to her own improvement projects for over 12 years. Her most recent role as Improvement Advisor for South East Sydney Mental Health Services involved coaching staff at all levels to apply Improvement Science to projects to achieve measurable outcomes for their consumers and teams.

Sonya is passionate about staff development and service improvement for safety and quality. She has a Master’s in Clinical Education, Certificate IV in Workplace Learning and Assessment, and a Diploma of Leadership and Management. She has more than 12 years' experience in clinical leadership development, facilitation and coaching.