Pursue a Rewarding Career Improving Patient Care

I’ve always been interested in a fascinating career in quality improvement. After all, hospital care makes up the biggest percentage of health care costs. Furthermore, the measurement and public reporting of quality data becomes more important each year.

I heard today’s guest discuss his journey at a conference last year. And I knew he’d be an excellent person to discuss such a career with us.

Dr. David Lucier is Director of Quality and Safety for Hospital Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He’s also Associate Medical Director for Specialty Programs and Clinical Collaboration at Partners Healthcare in Boston.

David received his MD and MBA from Tufts University School of Medicine, and a Master's in Public Health from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He completed his internal medicine residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Subsequently, he completed the Harvard Medical School Fellowship in Patient Safety and Quality, sponsored by CRICO, the Harvard malpractice insurer. And he continues to practice medicine as an academic Hospitalist at MGH.

In today’s interview, David explains why he likes QI work so much. He also sorts through the educational options for pursuing a career in quality improvement even if you’ve already been in practice for a while.

A Busy Hospitalist Service

David works with clinicians, physicians, residents, NPs, and PAs in Mass General’s medicine unit. His team cares for about 165 patients each day. “We have pure direct care, where I'm the attending for nine patients. A lot of these patients are very sick and very complicated. And many of them are persistent diagnostic dilemmas. They take up a lot of energy and time.”

quality improvement

Every hospitalist in David’s group works nights. “I still do nights. We do weekends. We do everything. Everyone does everything, and it's been a fantastic background for the quality work that we're doing.”

As Director of Quality and Safety, David’s job entails adverse event review, safety report review, and root cause analyses of safety events to determine and implement improvements in processes of care. Also, he’s involved with process improvement innovation: “Thinking about new ways of delivering care to patients, trialing new things, testing, and seeing if we can make an impact.”

Our Sponsor

The University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA Program, offered by the Haslam College of Business, is the proud sponsor of this podcast. You’ll remember that I interviewed Dr. Kate Atchley, the Executive Director of the program, in Episode #25 of this podcast.

The UT PEMBA is the longest running, and most highly respected physician-only MBA in the country. It has over 650 graduates. Unlike most other ranked programs, which typically have a duration of 18 to 24 months, this program only takes a year to complete. And Economist Magazine recently ranked the business school #1 in the world for the Most Relevant Executive MBA.

University of Tennessee PEMBA students bring exceptional value to their organizations. The curriculum includes a number of major assignments and a company project. Hence, students immediately contribute to their organizations while in the program.

Graduates have taken leadership positions at major healthcare organizations. And they have become entrepreneurs and business owners. If you want to acquire the business and management skills you need to advance your career, contact Dr. Kate Atchley’s office by calling (865) 974-6526 or going to vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

Considering a Fascinating Career in Quality Improvement

Mass General is starting to better abstract quality data and build a culture of data transparency since implementing the Epic electronic medical record. “We've got ways of monitoring and measuring. That's a key part of any quality work. We need data to make educated decisions on what we change and how we change it.”


But this fascinating career in quality improvement is not a solution to get out of something else. Don’t leave clinical work for a career in QI because you're burned out. According to David, “You have to really like it. You have to like working in teams… and thinking about data and creating system changes.”

This is the stuff that excites me every day.

David Lucier

“We need people doing this kind of work all over the place because the system of care is so complex and so complicated. There are opportunities everywhere to make it better for patients across this country.”

If you’re interested in a career in quality improvement and patient safety, here’s David’s advice on what you can do:

  • Volunteer to assist with quality improvement projects
  • Join workgroups and committees
  • Find people doing quality work to help mentor you
  • Obtain basic certification such as the CPHQ
  • Consider a fellowship in quality and safety
  • Take online courses
  • Earn an MBA or MPH degree

Many physicians working in QI and patient safety continue to see patients. The work is intellectually stimulating. And you're helping to improve outcomes for a larger population of patients. It can be very rewarding to know that you're making a difference for many.

Links for today's episode:

Thanks to our sponsor…

Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.

I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, share it on Twitter and Facebook, and leave a review on iTunes.

Podcast Editing & Production Services are provided by Oscar Hamilton.


The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business. 

Many of the links that I refer you to, and that you’ll find in the show notes, are affiliate links. That means that I receive a payment from the seller if you purchase the affiliate item using my link. Doing so has no effect on the price you are charged. And I only promote products and services that I believe are of high quality and will be useful to you, that I have personally used or am very familiar with.

The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career. 

Right click here and “Save As” to download this podcast episode to your computer.

Here are the easiest ways to listen:

vitalpe.net/itunes  or vitalpe.net/stitcher