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The UNC Institute for Healthcare Quality Improvement (IHQI) invites applications from UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health clinicians who want to develop improvement leadership skills by participating in the IHQI Improvement Scholars Program.

Please contact Matt Huemmer for more information.

Application Process

The first step in the application process is to submit a one-to-two-page letter of intent by December 1, 2023. If your letter of intent meets initial selection criteria, you will be invited to submit a full project proposal. Full proposals will be due February 2, 2024.

Improvement Scholars Application

Successful proposals from previous cycles:

Stepped Approach to Preventive Services Outreach in Primary Care.

Inpatient Care for Patients with IV or Opioid Drug Use-Associated Infections


RFP Published Oct 17, 2023
Letter of Intent Due Dec 1, 2023
Invitation to Apply Jan 12, 2024
Proposal Due Feb 2, 2024
Notification of Awards April 30, 2024
IHQI Project Support Begins Oct 1, 2024
IHQI Project Support Concludes Sep 30, 2025


Improvement Projects

Improvement Scholars apply clinical improvement skills by leading an improvement project. Scholars identify care gaps and conduct improvement projects to close the gaps. Criteria for successful Improvement Scholar projects include:

Implementation of evidence-based approaches Projects are intended to improve clinical care and outcomes for a population of patients by implementing proven and/or expert-recommended strategies and approaches. Proposals to research new interventions for efficacy and/or effectiveness will not be selected.
Equity prioritization All projects must assess and address identified health disparities regardless of project focus. IHQI provides guidance and support to accomplish this.
Alignment with organizational improvement priorities Projects must align with UNC Health improvement priorities. UNC Medical Center and system-level priorities are below. Department and unit level priorities are also considered. If you are unsure about whether your project idea aligns with an improvement priority, please contact Matt Huemmer at IHQI to provide information about the priority and discuss the feasibility of IHQI support for the proposed project.
Small-scale testing with opportunity to expand given positive outcomes Many Improvement Scholar projects test and refine improvements on a small-scale that are then adopted more broadly. (See Appendix C for examples.) The Improvement Scholars Program provides a prototyping and testing ground for piloting and refining effective interventions that can be spread throughout UNC Health.
Leadership support Project applicants are advised to discuss project ideas and seek guidance and approval from leaders of UNC Health improvement initiatives prior to submitting a letter of intent. Although not required, applications are strengthened by commitment of additional resources from the applicant’s home department.

UNC Health Improvement Priority Areas (example project topics listed as sub bullets) 

  • Health equity promotion 
    • e.g., reducing racial disparities in health outcomes  
  • Hospital length of stay reduction
    • e.g., reducing ED/hospital use/unnecessary procedures
  • Outpatient care improvement  
    • e.g., improving access, chronic illness prevention and treatment
  • Patient experience promotion
    • e.g., supporting patients making complex health decisions
  • Patient harm prevention and mortality reduction
    • e.g., patient flow/transitions between care settings, healthcare-associated infection reduction, medication safety and stewardship