Graduate Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems

Process and Quality improvement in healthcare using the Model for Improvement, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, and Person-centred improvement sciences. Enabling you to practice at the level of a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt within the Health System.

Internationally, many healthcare organisations are successfully using process and quality improvement methodologies to streamline processes, reduce cost, and most importantly improve the quality, experience of, and timely delivery of services to patients. When applied rigorously and throughout an entire healthcare organisation, improvement methodologies can have a positive impact on patients, their relatives, and staff. Although many improvement methodologies were developed in industry, health care is, in fact, a service industry, delivering care in extraordinarily complex organisations, with thousands of interacting processes. Many aspects of improvement methodologies, therefore, can and do apply to the processes of delivering care. Graduates of this programme have applied their learning successfully to improve experiences and outcomes for staff and patients in areas as diverse as Stroke Thrombolysis, Stroke Therapy, Patient Scheduling, Procurement, Data coding, ward, and unit design, Rehabilitation, Hip Fracture Pathways, Pharmacy, Pathology, Radiology, Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Oncology, and Community Health.

Download the course brochure here.


This interdisciplinary programme, open to all healthcare staff at all levels and in all settings within the health system,  builds on the Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems and is designed to prepare the student for implementing and leading on a process or quality improvement throughout their healthcare organisation. It lays the groundwork for building a healthcare transformation by training the student in researching, innovating, co-designing, and implementing solutions, and leading on change in their own organisation. The programme focuses on both the theoretical principles of process improvement and the mentored implementation of a Process Improvement Project in their own practice setting.  The programme has welcomed students from over 50 healthcare institutions across all hospital groups and Community Healthcare Organisations in Ireland.

Integral to our approach to improvement is our aim to align our programmes with the principles of Person-centredness that contribute to Person-centred cultures.

The Graduate Certificate is a pathway programme that contributes to the  MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits).

Where and how is the training delivered?

The programme is currently delivered via blended learning.

  • Half-day Graduate Orientation (Trimester 1) - Online via Zoom
  • 9 days lecture attendance (Trimesters 1-3) - Online via Zoom
  • Final Project presentation (duration 30 minutes) - Online via Zoom
  • Time for self-directed learning, research, data analysis and Project development
  • Mentor meetings - Online or in-person by agreement with mentor
Course objectives

Indicative learning outcomes: on completion the student will be able to:

  • Lead on process and quality improvement initiatives as an engaged and informed process improvement practitioner.
  • Demonstrate and teach process improvement principles, methods, and tools to optimise care delivery and support processes.
  • Utilise advanced improvement methodologies and tools to optimise care delivery and support processes.
  • Be a skilled practitioner of implementation science and researching change in their own organisation.
  • Carry out healthcare research to support and underpin organisational process and quality improvement projects.
  • Manage complex healthcare processes.
  • Evidence knowledge and understanding of problem-solving principles, tools and techniques to deliver project outcomes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse and draw conclusions from data using analytical and statistical techniques.
  • Demonstrate, through developing and leading a solo project understanding of the effectiveness of the process improvement methodology in healthcare.
  • Deliver Value Add for patients, staff, and customers.
  • Demonstrate the ability to overcome resistance to change in an organisation through effective communication with and influencing of key stakeholders utilising innovative and robust approaches to process improvement.
Student Testimonials

Dolores Donegan, Programme Manager, RCSI Hospital Group

"The programme has been a great learning experience. It has provided solid tools to facilitate teams across the organisation to critically examine current practice, enabling the teams to work together to design and implement new ways of working."

Ailish Daly, Director of Education, Innovation and Rehabilitation, Beacon Hospital

"A practical, immersive programme delivering skills to support system wide view of process improvement in healthcare. This programme puts theory to practice with students translating classroom learning to practical service improvement initiatives. Completing this programmme has greatly enhanced my skills in leading improvement projects in an acute healthcare setting."

Dee Shanahan, Electronic Health Record Senior Project Manager (PAS) at Children's Health Ireland

"Participation in the UCD programme has substantially improved my understanding of service improvement. Since completion, the programme has afforded me daily with the knowledge, skills and tools to enable me to carry out a leadership role when assessing with a team the large-scale problems at hand. The confidence I gained from the programme has assisted my facilitating and leading a multi-disciplinary team in systematically removing non value add healthcare waste and reducing variation in some very complex problems."

Maria Creed, Operations Manager, Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal, Endocrinology and Diabetes Directorate

"The programme is an excellent opportunity to obtain recognised quality improvement training which is tailored to the pace of staff working in active healthcare roles. The chance to work on meaningful healthcare projects with the availability of UCD expertise to steer project development makes this programme unique."

Kieran McDonnell, Administration Team Manager, Health and Social Care Professions Directorate

"A fantastic opportunity to learn about improvement systems and methodologies. As well as learning principles and theory I have also had an opportunity to lead on a collaborative improvement project. It has been of great benefit to see the theories learned put into practice and see the impact first hand of implementing improvement methodologies on a process."

Erin Daly, Operations Manger, The Pillar Centre for Transformative Healthcare

"A thought provoking and engaging programme that has enabled me to gather the necessary change management tools to generate sustainable and meaningful improvements in a healthcare setting. Through a series of interactive workshops, individual assignments and team exercises I have realised the far reaching applications and everyday uses of improvement methodologies. This effective and motivational learning experience was further enhanced with the supportive mentorship of a dedicated mentor. I would highly recommend the Programme."

Assessment Strategies
  • Module specific assignments.
  • Module specific group and individual presentations.
  • Incremental Process Improvement Project (PIP) Development and delivery over the duration of the Programme.
  • Final project presentation to UCD expert panel (candidates must pass this assessment to be eligible for an academic award).
Attendance Dates 2022/2023

Student orientation

Monday September 5th via ZOOM. Links will be issued in advance.  Covers aspects of student life including UCD contacts, library resources, UCD student card and Brightspace (UCD virtual Learning Platform)


Class dates 2022/2023

Trimester 1 (Autumn 2022)

NMHS43400 Managing Process Improvement: Theory & Principles

Delivered over 5 days|Trimester 1 (All classes are on Monday from 10:00 -16:00)

  • 12th September
  • 26th September
  • 17th October
  • 24th October
  • 14th November

NMHS43810 Implementing a Process Improvement Project (IMPIP)

Delivered over 4 days|Trimesters 1-3 (All 10:00-16:00) 

  • 28th November

Trimester 2/3 (Spring/Summer 2023)

NMHS43810 Implementing a Process Improvement Project (IMPIP)

Delivered over 4 days|Trimesters 1-3 (All 10:00-16:00) 

  • 30th January
  • 27th March
  • 29th May

Improvement Project presentation to an expert panel

Dates to be confirmed

Entry Requirements

Healthcare Professionals should have completed the Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems or equivalent with UCD or another accredited provider to Level 8.

How to Apply

Applications for this programme are open and you can apply at the link here.

If taking this programme or a component module as part of the MSc in Leadership, Innovation and Management, you can contact the MSc Programme Director, Professor Martin McNamara directly for advice on further MSc module choice


The EU fee for this programme for 2022/23 is €6,072.

*holders of the Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems (X925) or an equivalent accredited academic programme are eligible for Recognised Prior Learning of 10 credits. Please click on the Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) tab for more details.

More information on the fees for your programme can be found at the links below. Search using your major code (the four-digit code beginning with 'X' which can be found in the key information box on this page).

Please note that UCD fees are subject to change annually. The fees shown include the student centre levy which must be paid by all students.


If the fees for your programme are being paid by a third party (full or partial), please ensure your funding organisation/sponsor/hospital contacts Please note this is not a student facing email address.

Student Queries:

If you have any queries about your fees, please contact the Student Desk:

 Application Fee:

Please note that all applicants are required to pay the €50 application fee. Your application cannot be processed fully unless the application fee has been paid.

More information about fees is available on the UCD website at the link below:

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL)

​​​​​Applicants may be considered for entry under the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policies if they can demonstrate that the modules'
learning outcomes have been achieved through prior credentialled or experiential learning.

Please contact the Programme Director if you have any queries on your eligibility.

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) applications must be submitted through your SISWeb account when making your online application.

For detailed information please read the UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning at this link: UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning.

To apply for RPL please click on this link.

Selected Graduate and Faculty publications


Daly, A., Teeling, S.P., Garvey, S., Ward, M. and McNamara, M., 2022. Using a Combined Lean and Person-Centred Approach to Support the Resumption of Routine Hospital Activity following the First Wave of COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(5), p.2754. 

Moffatt, S., Garry, C., McCann, H., Teeling, S. P., Ward, M. and McNamara, M. (2022) ‘The Use of Lean Six Sigma Methodology in the Reduction of Patient Length of Stay Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Surgery’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI AG, vol. 19, no. 3, p. 1588.

Teeling, S.P., Dewing, J. and Baldie, D., 2022. Developing New Methods for Person-Centred Approaches to Adjudicate Context–Mechanism–Outcome Configurations in Realist Evaluation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 19(4), p.2370.

Ward, M. E., Daly, A., McNamara, M., Garvey, S. and Teeling, S. P. (2022) ‘A Case Study of a Whole System Approach to Improvement in an Acute Hospital Setting’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI AG, vol. 19, no. 3, p. 1246


Daly, A., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M., McNamara, M., and Robinson, C., 2021. The Use of Lean Six Sigma for Improving Availability of and Access to Emergency Department Data to Facilitate Patient Flow. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(21), p.11030.

Daly, A., Wolfe, N., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M. and McNamara, M., 2021. Redesigning the Process for Scheduling Elective Orthopaedic Surgery: A Combined Lean Six Sigma and Person-Centred Approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(22), p.11946.

Dempsey, A., Robinson, C., Moffatt, N., Hennessy, T., Bradshaw, A., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M., McNamara, M. (2021) Lean Six Sigma Redesign of a Process for Healthcare Mandatory Education in Basic Life Support—A Pilot Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, 11653.Donegan, D., Teeling, S.P., McNamara, M., McAweeney, E., McGrory, l., Mooney, R. (2021) 'Calling time on the 'dance of the blind reflex': how collaborative working reduced older persons' length of stay in acute care and increased home discharge, International Practice Development Journal, 11 (1).

Egan, P., Pierce, A., Flynn, A., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M. and McNamara, M., 2021. Releasing Operating Room Nursing Time to Care through the Reduction of Surgical Case Preparation Time: A Lean Six Sigma Pilot Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(22), p.12098

O’Mahony, L., McCarthy, K., O’Donoghue, J., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M. and McNamara, M., 2021. Using Lean Six Sigma to Redesign the Supply Chain to the Operating Room Department of a Private Hospital to Reduce Associated Costs and Release Nursing Time to Care. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(21), p.11011.

Teeling, S.P., Davies, C., Barnard, M., O’Connor, L., Coffey, A., Lambert, V., McNamara, M., Tuohy, D., Frawley, T., Redmond, C., Somanadhan, S., Casey, M., Corcoran, Y., Doody, O., O’Brien, D., Noonan, M., Smith, R., Bradshaw, C., Murphy, S., Dore, L., Lyons, R., McGeehan, M. and Gallen, A., 2021. A Rapid Realist Review of Quality Care Process Metrics Implementation in Nursing and Midwifery Practice. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(22), p.11932.

Wolfe, N., Teeling, S.P., Ward, M., McNamara, M. and Koshy, L., 2021. Operation Note Transformation: The Application of Lean Six Sigma to Improve the Process of Documenting the Operation Note in a Private Hospital Setting. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 18(22), p.12217.


Connolly, K., Teeling, SP., McNamara, M (2020) 'Live well after stroke', International Practice Development Journal, 10 (2), Article 5.

Sanders, K; Marriott-Statham, K; Mackay, M; McMillan, A; Rennie, K; Robinson, BA; Teeling, SP. (2020) 'The Student International Community of Practice: a critical reflection on the shared experience of being a member, using creative hermeneutics' ,International Practice Development Journal, 10 (1).

Teeling, SP., Dewing, J., Baldie, D. (2020) 'A Discussion of the Synergy and Divergence between Lean Six Sigma and Person-Centred Improvement Sciences', International Journal of Research in Nursing, 11, 10-23.


Brown R, Grehan P, Brennan M, Carter D, Brady A, Moore E, Teeling SP, Ward M, Eaton D Using Lean Six Sigma to improve rates of day of surgery admission in a national thoracic surgery department International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1):14-21

Creed M, McGuirk M, Buckley R, De Brun A, Kiliduff, M. (2018). Using Lean Six Sigma to Improve Controlled Drug Processes and Release Nursing Time. Journal of Nursing Care Quality. 34. 1. 10.

Davies C, Lyons C, Whyte R, Optimising nursing time in a day care unit: Quality improvement using Lean Six Sigma methodology, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, Volume 31, Issue Supplement_1, December 2019, Pages 22–28

Hynes, J.P., Murray, A.S., Murray, O.M., Eustace, S.K., Gilchrist, S., Dolan, A. & Lawler, L.P. 2019, "Use of Lean Six Sigma methodology shows reduction of inpatient waiting time for peripherally inserted central catheter placement", Clinical Radiology, vol. 74, no. 9, pp. 733.e5-733.e9.

McGrath K, Casserly M, O'Mara F, Muslow J, Shields C, Staunton O, Ward M, Teeling SP (2019) Zap it track it: the application of Lean Six Sigma methods to improve the screening system of low-grade mucinous neoplasms of the appendix in an acute hospital setting. International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1):35-44 23

McNamara, M. Teeling, SP. (2019) Developing a university accredited Lean Six Sigma curriculum to overcome system blindness.  International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1):3-5

McNamara M, Teeling SP, Shannon M (2019). Integrative Nursing in Ireland In: Integrative Nursing. Editors: Kreitzer, Mary Jo, Koithan, Mary. 633-642. Weil Integrative Medicine Libr, United States of America

Murphy C, Mullen E, Hogan K, O'Toole R, Teeling SP (2019) Streamlining an existing hip fracture patient pathway in an acute tertiary adult Irish hospital to improve patient experience and outcomes International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1):45-51

Ryan P, McGrath C, Lawrie I, Fitzsimons C,  O’Shea J, de Brún A. (2019) Enhancing efficiency in a cardiac investigations department by increasing remote patient monitoring, International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1): 29–34

Teeling SP, Coetzee H, Phillips M, McKiernan M, Ní She É, Igoe A (2019) Reducing risk of development or exacerbation of nutritional deficits by optimising patient access to mealtime assistance. International Journal for Quality in Healthcare 31(Supplement_1):6-13


Kieran, M., Cleary, M., De Brún, A., & Igoe, A. (2017) Supply and Demand: Application of Lean Six Sigma methods to improve drug round efficiency and release nursing time. International Journal for Quality in Healthcare.  29 (6): 803-809


Feeney A, Barry T, Hayden D, Higgins L, Kavanagh E, MacMahon P, O’Reilly M, Teeling SP, Kelly PJ, Murphy S (2016) Pre-Hospital Fast Positive Cases Identified by DFB Ambulance Paramedics: Final Clinical Diagnosis. Irish Medical Journal 109(4):399

Hayden D., Byrne C., Higgins L., O'Reilly M., Teeling S.P., MacMahon P., Kavanagh E., Kelly P., Murphy, S. (2016) Lean Six Sigma: A Highly Effective Approach to Reducing Door-to-Needle Times in Acute Ischemic Stroke International Journal of Stroke.

Kieran, M., Cleary, M., Teeling, S., Creed, M. & Meegan, C. (2016) 'Supply and demand: Reducing the time to complete the oral drug administration round'. European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy: Science and Practice, 23 (Supplement 1): A172.2-A173.

O'Toole R, Murphy C, Hogan K, Mullen E, Igoe A, Teeling SP, Duggan, J. Power, D.  Utilisation of Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement methodologies in acute hip fracture care of the Older person Age and Ageing, Volume 45, Issue suppl_2, September 2016, Pages ii13–ii56


O’Hora L, Stanley J, Fox L, Murphy K. (2015) An investigation of the effectiveness of lean six sigma strategies in reducing computed tomography order to report time Radiography Ireland (18): 13-17


Teeling, SP (2014) Management Focus – Lean Machines. World of Irish Nursing. 22(4)