Advance in Patient Quality & Safety
- 4 courses - earn your credential in less than a year
- Supplement your master's in health or nursing
- $627/credit (12 credits)
- Master a critical focus area in healthcare today
- 24/7 online accessibility - attend class when it's convenient
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores required
Patient Quality & Safety Post-Graduate Certificate Program Overview
Enhance your nursing or healthcare career with Southern New Hampshire University's Patient Safety and Quality Post-Graduate Certificate.
This 12-credit program follows strategies for improving patient safety and quality, as outlined in the Institute of Medicine's report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." Students will identify ways to ensure the continuous improvement of the patient care process.
You'll specifically focus on healthcare quality improvement, risk assessment, communication, legal issues and strategies that contribute to building a culture of safety. You'll also explore ways to assure accountability and reliability in care processes and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams.
In the online patient safety and quality post-graduate healthcare certificate, you'll learn how to:
- Propose informatics technologies that help deliver and enhance patient care
- Apply research practices to drive real-world improvement in healthcare
- Use data to ensure excellence in healthcare across diverse settings
- Develop continuous improvement of the patient care process
Perfect for nurses and healthcare professionals who have already earned their master's degree online, or on campus, our patient safety and quality post-graduate healthcare certificate program can help position you for advancement in various healthcare settings.
Nurses and medical professionals with advanced skills are highly sought after by employers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 18% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.1
However, these numbers don't even reflect the more recent challenges confronted by today's healthcare system. Caregivers now have the impossible task of treating a high volume of patients in stressful, often unpredictable conditions. Moreover, health leaders are needed to improve and enact procedural initiatives that could help save lives.
"Given recent and ongoing health issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of Zika spread and transmission, healthcare workers need to be prepared," said Dr. Karen Brooks, graduate nursing faculty lead at SNHU. "The [patient safety and quality certificate program exposes students to strategies for effective interdisciplinary interactions and problem solving through strategic data analysis."
Graduates of the program can help reduce the projected 4 in 10 global patients harmed in primary and outpatient care each year. Of these cases, it's estimated that 80% are preventable.2
What's more, this 12-credit program can be completed in less than a year – helping you fast-track your goals and make an immediate impact in the industry.
Start Your Journey Toward a Patient Safety and Quality Post-Graduate Healthcare Certificate
Why SNHU for Your Post-Graduate Patient Quality & Safety Certificate
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.3 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our five graduate terms. You can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials. To apply, simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options. Your counselor can also walk you through the application process, which involves completing a graduate application ($40 fee) and providing transcripts.
- A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 from an accredited nursing or health professions graduate program
- Provisional acceptance may be extended to applicants with an undergraduate GPA between 2.67 and 2.99
- Registered nurse applicants who wish to pursue this certificate must meet MSN nursing program admission requirements.
SNHU nursing programs are not authorized in the state of Washington or US territories and we are not accepting students residing in Washington state or US territories into Nursing programs at this time. Currently enrolled students who move into the state of Washington or a US territory will not be able to continue in nursing courses until they move out of the state of Washington or the US territory. Prospective students are encouraged to contact Admission, and current students should contact their Advisor, for more information.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process, which includes:
- Completing a graduate application ($40 fee)
- Providing undergraduate transcripts
Courses & Curriculum
In the online post graduate patient safety and quality certificate program, you'll explore healthcare systems and processes that contribute to risk reduction, evidence-based practice, knowledge of the healthcare environment, leadership, accountability, professionalism and business skills.
Building upon your technical aptitude, you'll gain a deep understanding of how cross-organizational teams work together within a complex healthcare system.
"The demands of patient and safety roles require interdisciplinary collaboration," said Dr. Brooks. "This is why the four courses in this certificate program are interdisciplinary health professions (IHP) courses."
Delivery of care depends on a well-oiled machine that consists of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical workers. Every touchpoint requires a set of processes built to ensure the safety of patients. Whether it's the prepping procedures before blood is drawn, or the multi-step process of delivering medication to a patient, these practices are essential in reducing harm and risk.
Beyond that, cost is a major driver of quality care.
"The four interdisciplinary courses that comprise the certificate program are tailored to address the undeniable nexus between quality and cost," Dr. Brooks said. "This is through courses that focus on organizational strategies to improve and highlight quality while also considering value and cost containment aspects."
One such course is IHP640: Measurement, Analysis & Models for Performance Improvement. By honing in on data, the course will help you play a more active role in organizational decision making. You'll learn how to use evaluation and display tools that can be shared with key stakeholders. These visualized findings will then be used to identify trends and introduce cost-effective process improvement strategies.
IHP645: Regulatory Compliance, Accreditation and Promoting a Patient Safety Culture, on the other hand, takes a close look at the processes and procedures that promote safety in healthcare environments. These include risk assessment, safety improvement, advanced communication strategies, change management and more.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|Post-Graduate Certificate in Patient Safety & Quality|
|Courses May Include|
|Post Graduate Certificate Patient Safety and Quality|
|IHP 604||Healthcare Quality and Improvement||Gain a broad view of US healthcare quality including its evolution and trajectory given the dynamic US healthcare landscape and changing demographics. Explore key concepts including the integration of health information and technologies to promote healthcare quality at the organizational level.|
|IHP 640||Measurement, Analysis, & Models for Performance Improvement||This course examines the principles of measurement, analysis and models for performance improvement to promote continuous quality improvement. Design and data collection will be explored including sampling methodology, operational definitions, establishment of benchmarks, and data integrity and differentiating between structure, process and outcome measures. Topics for measurement and analysis examined include using statistics to describe data (e.g. mean, median, standard deviation); using statistical process control charts to identify trends and distinguish between common and special cause variation; using tools to evaluate a process or display data (e.g. fishbone, run charts, Pareto chart, control chart, etc.); and evaluating data to support decision-making. Students will also explore models for performance improvement including PDSA, Six Sigma and Lean. Nursing students who successfully complete the course with a B- or better will receive 45 indirect practice hours.|
|IHP 645||Regulatory Compliance, Accreditation and Promoting a Patient Safety Culture||This course explores the history of the patient safety movement, regulatory requirements and accreditation standards for healthcare organizations. Principles of patient safety and error science will include methods for risk assessment and safety improvement and analysis of errors through Serious Reportable Events, Root Cause Analysis and Failure Mode Effects Analysis. Students will be introduced to advanced communication strategies including group dynamics, power structures, team and team roles, hand-offs, chain-of-command, and error disclosure. Utilizing a systems thinking approach students will explore change management, collaborative practice, human factors, just and punitive cultures, and creating a high reliability organization through standardization of processes and transparency. Nursing students who successfully complete the course with a B- or better will receive 45 indirect practice hours.|
|IHP 670||Program Design, Planning and Evaluation||This course explores program design, planning and evaluation utilizing needs assessment, data analysis, resource allocation, and evaluation methodologies. This course provides the student with a strong foundation in the development of a program proposal.|
|Total Credits: 12|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 15 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)
Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
$150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get certified in healthcare quality?
If you're looking for a credential that demonstrates your knowledge in healthcare quality, our online post-graduate certificate in patient safety and quality is a strong place to start.
Designed for nurses and healthcare professionals who have already earned their master's, the program can be completed in less than a year. The 4 courses cover critical concepts including healthcare quality and improvement, data collection, regulatory compliance and data evaluation. It's important to note that all of these areas are consistent with the material covered in the CPHQ exam.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The post-graduate patient safety and quality certificate program follows strategies outlined in the Institute of Medicine's report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health."
If you have some education and practical experience under your belt, and would like to continue on this pathway, consider one of these 2 highly sought after credentials in healthcare quality:
Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)
The CPHQ is offered by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) and was developed by the Healthcare Quality Certification Commission (HQCC). With over 12,000 recipients, it is widely considered the industry standard for healthcare quality.4
The exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions that test aptitude in organizational leadership, health data analytics, performance and process improvement and patient safety.
The CPHQ exam is also unique in that there is no minimum education requirement to sit in.4
As Dr. Deb Murray, associate dean at SNHU, points out, the HQCC "celebrates the elimination of barriers such as minimum education and experience requirements," thereby equalizing the field for nurses and healthcare professionals looking to advance their careers.
While exam readiness may be freely decided by the individual candidate, it is recommended that those sitting in for the exam have at least 2 years of professional healthcare experience prior to testing.
Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS)
The CPPS exam is offered by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and administered by the Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS).5
The test covers five core patient safety domains: culture, leadership, patient safety risks and solutions, measuring and improving performance, and systems thinking and design/human factors.
Unlike the CPHQ, eligible candidates must fulfill one of the following prerequisites before they can sit for the CPPS exam:5
- Bachelor's degree or higher plus 3 years of experience (includes time spent in clinical rotations and residency programs) in a health care setting or with a provider of services to the health care industry
- Associate degree or equivalent plus 5 years of experience (includes time spent in clinical rotations) in a health care setting or with a provider of services to the health care industry
What is the difference between quality and patient safety?
While these topics are intertwined, there are some specific ways to differentiate quality and patient safety. Let's compare the two.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines patient safety as a healthcare discipline that "aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm that occur to patients during provision of health care."2
As healthcare systems become more mature and complex, the likelihood of human errors rise. Take, for example, the delivery of medications. Prescriptions go through a long chain of people and processes before getting to the patient; Doctors, pharmacists and nurses all play a role. But what happens if, say, two medications with similar packaging get swapped? Set procedures can help prevent these incidences from occurring.
Along with medication errors, WHO specifically notes a number of other patient safety situations, including:2
- Unsafe injection, transfusion or surgical care procedures
- Healthcare associated infections
- Diagnostic and radiation errors
- Venous thromboembolism (blood clots)
Standardized checks-and-balances can catch and correct human errors. But without a protective system in place, the damage could be dangerous and costly; In fact, preventable human error reportedly sets hospitals back nearly $42 billion USD annually.2
This is just one of the many reasons the World Health Organization (WHO) has named patient safety a "global health priority."2
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines health care quality as "the degree to which health care services... increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge."6
In an effort to meet the highest industry standards, IOM categorizes 6 domains of health quality:6
- Effectiveness. Providing care processes and achieving outcomes as supported by scientific evidence.
- Efficiency. Maximizing the quality of a comparable unit of health care delivered or unit of health benefit achieved for a given unit of health care resources used.
- Equity. Providing health care of equal quality to those who may differ in personal characteristics other than their clinical condition or preferences for care.
- Patient centeredness. Meeting patients' needs and preferences and providing education and support.
- Safety. Mitigating actual or potential bodily harm.
- Timeliness. Obtaining needed care while minimizing delays.
At the end of the day, evaluating both quality and patient safety is critical. Consider the timely example of infection control practices, and how they can stop the spread of a new virus. Patient safety can be improved through sterilization and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields, respirators, gloves and gowns. Diagnostics and vaccines, on the other hand, are tested for quality and accreditation to ensure they meet current standards as outlined by the greater medical community. All of these efforts are ultimately designed to "flatten the curve" and keep patients, medical professionals and the entire global community safe.
SNHU has provided additional information for programs that educationally prepare students for professional licensure or certification. Learn more about what that means for your program on our licensure and certification disclosure page.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (viewed May 5, 2020)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2 Patient Safety. World Health Organization, on the internet at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/patient-safety (viewed May 5, 2020)
3 According to survey responses from over 9,200 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2019.
4 Certification. National Association for Healthcare Quality, on the internet at https://nahq.org/certification/certified-professional-healthcare-quality/ (viewed May 5, 2020)
5 CPPS: Certified Professional in Patient Safety. Institute for Healthcare Improvement, on the internet at http://www.ihi.org/education/cpps-certified-professional-in-patient-safety/Pages/default.aspx (viewed May 5, 2020)
6 Understanding Quality Measurement. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, on the internet at https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/chtoolbx/understand/index.html (viewed May 5, 2020)