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Wisconsin Quality Residency Program

  • Need: To prepare quality improvement leaders for their roles in small rural hospitals or Critical Access Hospitals.
  • Intervention: A program to teach quality improvement methods, leadership and management skills, and networking support to hospital quality leaders.
  • Results: In the program's first year, it has enrolled 38 participants.

Newly hired quality leaders often struggle in their first years because they lack knowledge in foundational skills and requirements essential to the job. In small rural hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals, quality improvement leaders are seen as experts in their field; however, they may feel overwhelmed without proper training, networking, and collaboration resources to draw on. Rural geographical and professional isolation also hinder the success of new quality novices.

Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative logoTo address this need, the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC), in partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA), developed the Wisconsin Quality Residency Program. The Wisconsin Quality Residency Program provides foundational training by providing in-person learning modules that address quality improvement methods, leadership and management skills, and networking support. Between the modules, participants receive coaching calls, which answer any outstanding questions from the previous modules, provide legislative or regulatory updates, and prepare the residents for the upcoming module. The educational content is delivered by expert presenters, and ongoing support is provided by the program leads. The program also allows for veteran quality directors to come and refresh their skills by attending an individual module topic.

Services offered

The Wisconsin Quality Residency Program provides training in:

  • Basic quality theory
  • Tools for data-driven decision-making
  • Networking
  • Professional development

When the program started up in March 2014, 32 people entered the program. By September 2014, the program expanded to allow additional participants, bringing the total to 38 program participants.


Challenges that the program has faced include:

  • Experiencing quality improvement leader turnover within the program
  • Identifying and on-boarding new quality improvement leaders in the state
  • Expanding audience to quality improvement leaders outside of the hospital setting
  • Assuring that content is applicable and relevant to both Critical Access and Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals

In order to successfully create a similar program in other communities:

  • Create strong core partnerships for the planning committee
  • Know your audience and market your program accordingly
  • Have leadership buy-in from organizations sending their employees to the program
  • Make sure participants feel fully supported
Contact Information
Janet Wagner, Quality Services Senior Manager
Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
Critical Access Hospitals
Healthcare quality
Healthcare workforce
States served
Date added
June 12, 2015
Date updated or reviewed
July 7, 2016

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.