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September 5, 2007

Teaching Quality Improvement: The Devil Is in the Details

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire (Dr Batalden); and Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Dr Davidoff).

JAMA. 2007;298(9):1059-1061. doi:10.1001/jama.298.9.1059

From the list of 14 characteristics he assembled in 1980, Cyril Houle, a serious student of professional education, singled out self-development as professionalism's one unchanging feature; as he put it, “[A]s an occupational group raises its level of performance . . . its right to call itself a profession increases.”1 Houle's choice of words warrants serious attention: a profession is defined by what it does, not just what it knows, and by doing what it does better all the time, not just doing it well.