Advance in Healthcare Quality and Safety
- $627/credit (12 credits)
- 4-course certificate program - complete in less than 1 year
- Supplement your master's in health professions or nursing
- Master a critical focus area in healthcare today
- 24/7 online accessibility - attend class when it's convenient
- No entrance exams required
Healthcare Quality & Safety Post-Graduate Certificate Program Overview
Enhance your nursing or healthcare career with Southern New Hampshire University's Healthcare Quality and Safety Post-Graduate Certificate.
This 12-credit program follows strategies for improving healthcare safety and quality, as aligned with today's industry standards. 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 ensure 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 healthcare quality and safety post-graduate 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 28% through 2031, 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. Leaders and caregivers now have the impossible task of treating a high volume of patients in complex, often unpredictable, systems and 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 healthcare quality and safety certificate program exposes students to strategies for effective interdisciplinary interactions and problem solving through strategic data analysis."
Expertise in healthcare processes can help shape a better healthcare system for diverse patient populations. According to the National Academy of Medicine report, "The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity": "Care management, care coordination and transitional care are activities that nurses perform as members of a health care team to decrease fragmentation, bolster communication, and improve care quality and safety."2
"A care management approach is particularly important for people with complex health and social needs, who may require care from multiple providers, medical follow-up, medication management, and help in addressing their social needs," the report said.2
Those who earn the graduate certificate in healthcare safety and quality can build the skills they need to help protect the 1 in 10 patients harmed while receiving hospital care.3 This harm is reportedly caused by a range of adverse events, and nearly 50% of these cases are considered preventable.3
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 Healthcare Quality & Safety Certificate
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Prior coursework and work experience could also help you save time and money. SNHU’s transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 12 credits from your previous institution. You could also earn college credit for previous work experience.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 160,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, 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 300,000 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.
93.6% of online students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2022 survey with 17,000+ respondents). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
(Open to qualified nursing and health professions candidates only.)
- Nurse applicants who wish to pursue this certificate must meet MSN degree program admission requirements AND have earned a master’s degree from an accredited nursing program (ACEN, CCNE, and CNEA) with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
- Non-nursing health professionals who wish to pursue this certificate must have earned a health professions master’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
How to Apply
If you’re ready to apply, follow these simple steps to get the process going:
- Complete free graduate application
- Submit undergraduate transcripts
- Work with an admission counselor to explore financial options and walk through application process
Courses & Curriculum
In the online post graduate healthcare quality and safety certificate, 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.
According to Debra Sowell, clinical faculty of graduate nursing programs at SNHU, the healthcare quality and safety courses "focus on healthcare policies, regulation, economics and high reliability healthcare that is consistently excellent and safe over all services and settings for long periods of time."
As you progress through the content, you'll "apply best practices [and] evaluate system efficiencies, promote a culture of safety and identify resources needed for healthcare quality improvements," she said.
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," Dr. Karen Brooks, graduate nursing faculty lead at SNHU. "This is why the four courses in this certificate program are interdisciplinary health professions (IHP) courses."
Delivery of care depends on a interdisciplinary approach and culture of safety across teams composed of providers, pharmacists and other skilled medical workers. Every touchpoint requires a set of processes built to ensure the safety of patients. Whether it's throughout the patient's admission process, or the multi-step process of administering 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," 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 Healthcare Quality and Improvement. This interprofessional course will take learners through the process of healthcare delivery from a quality and safety lens. Learners can gain a deeper understanding of how quality is measured, tracked and improved in healthcare. Learners will focus on organizational assessments, commonly used tools, and the application of analytical frameworks to identify the root cause of an event and will gain knowledge of healthcare data relevance, use of change management principles and tools, and evaluation methods.
Healthcare Safety, Just Culture, and Regulation, on the other hand, allows learners to explore the impact of regulatory and accreditation standards on organizational compliance and liability. Topics include accreditation and regulatory standards, compliance, and advocating for a culture of safety. Learners can lead change by developing person-centered solutions that mitigate risks and promote quality and safety.
HEaRT Experiential Learning
Looking to gain professional healthcare experience, even before you graduate? Do it with HEaRT.
Specially designed for learners in healthcare and nursing, HEaRT (Higher Education and Real World Training) is a powerful experiential learning opportunity at SNHU. These online, asynchronous, voluntary experiences help connect students with employers to help solve real-world business problems – so you can be ready to make an impact in your field.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|Post Master's Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Quality and Safety|
|Courses May Include|
|Post Graduate Certificate Healthcare Quality & Safety|
|IHP 604||Healthcare Quality and Improvement||This interprofessional course will take learners through the process of healthcare delivery from a quality and safety lens. Learners will gain a deeper understanding of how quality is measured, tracked, and improved in healthcare. They will focus on organizational assessments, commonly used tools, and the application of analytical frameworks to identify the root cause of an event. Learners will gain knowledge of healthcare data relevance, use of change management principles and tools, and evaluation methods.|
|IHP 610||Health Policy and Law||In this interprofessional course, students will examine the ways that stakeholders and interest groups can influence health law and policies. Students will examine ways to articulate the needs of individuals, communities, and vulnerable populations based on cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors to key decision makers. They will explore concepts and principles of public health, health law, health policy, finance, and risk management in healthcare. Students will gain knowledge regarding health law and policy to inform decision-making.|
|IHP 670||Program Design, Planning and Evaluation||In this interprofessional course, students will explore program planning, design, and evaluation. Topics explored include needs assessment, cultural competency, ethics, and data analytics. Students will utilize project, financial, and resource management skills to achieve the outcomes of the proposed program. They will gain an understanding of how community needs assessments and resource allocation are used in program proposals. Students will also apply leadership skills that facilitate the program planning process.|
|Total Credits: 12|
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
Tuition & Fees
At SNHU, we’re committed to making education more accessible, by making it more affordable.
Beyond low tuition rates, we help our students save through transfer credits, credit for prior learning, grants and scholarships, tuition assistance and more. U.S. service members, both full and part time, as well as the spouses of those on active duty are also eligible for a 25% tuition discount.
This certificate is not eligible for federal financial aid. Students seeking alternatives to federal financial aid can explore tuition assistance, grants and scholarships, as well as private loans. To learn more about private loans, visit our Funding Your Education with Student Loans page.
|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.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get certified in healthcare quality?
If you're looking for another credential that demonstrates your knowledge in healthcare quality, our online post-graduate certificate in healthcare quality and safety 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, regulatory compliance and data evaluation.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
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. Debra Murray, MSN program director 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:4
- 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 healthcare 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 healthcare industry
What is the difference between healthcare quality and patient safety?
While these topics are intertwined, there are some specific ways to differentiate healthcare 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."3
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:3
- 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.3
This is just one of the many reasons the World Health Organization (WHO) has named patient safety a "global health priority."3
The National Academy of Medicine – formerly 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, National Academy of Medicine 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.
Licensure and Certification Disclosures
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.
ANCC Accredited Provider
At Southern New Hampshire University, we’re committed to your success — even beyond graduation. That’s why we’re committed to delivering accredited continuing education for nurses and healthcare professionals. From one-hour webinars to multi-day conferences and more, these opportunities are built to help you continue to meet the needs of communities across the globe.
Visit our SNHU continuing education page to learn more.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) Commission on Accreditation.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
1Bureau 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 Oct. 28, 2022).
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982. (viewed June 1, 2021)
3World Health Organization, Patient Safety Facts Sheet, on the internet, at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/patient-safety (viewed June 1, 2021)
4National Association for Healthcare Quality, CPHQ Certification, on the internet, at https://nahq.org/certification/certified-professional-healthcare-quality/ (viewed June 1, 2021).
5Institute for Healthcare Improvement, CPPS: Governance and Oversight, on the internet, at http://www.ihi.org/education/cpps-certified-professional-in-patient-safety/Pages/Governance%20and%20Oversight.aspx
6Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, Six Domains of Health Care Quality, on the internet at https://www.ahrq.gov/talkingquality/measures/six-domains.html (viewed June 1, 2021)