Graduate Diploma 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 as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt within the Health System.

The seeds of process and quality improvement were sown by many innovators but Toyota is credited as being the forefather of the Lean process improvement methodology as we know it today. Simply put, for healthcare staff, Lean means finding the time to do the work you have to do, in the time you have to do it. Lean thinking is not typically associated with healthcare, due to its association with the motor industry. But the principles of Lean management can, in fact, work in health care in much the same way they do in other industries. Internationally, many healthcare organisations are successfully using Lean thinking to streamline processes, reduce cost, and most importantly improve the quality, experience of, and timely delivery of services to patients. Six Sigma simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects and unwanted variation  in any process – and works particularly well in use with Lean. Person-centredness is,  in ascendancy as a particular type of approach and culture that applies to everyone in the organisation, staff, patients and families alike. Person-centredness in healthcare is understood as the practice of forming and fostering healthful relationships between service users, families and care providers with the intent of improving and innovating the experience of healthcare for all.

When applied rigorously and throughout an entire healthcare organisation, Lean, Six Sigma and Person-centred improvement methodologies can have a positive impact on patient, relative and staff experience of care, and on outcomes. While sceptics are right when they say, “Patients are not cars” ,healthcare is, in fact, delivered in extraordinarily complex organisations, with thousands of interacting processes. Many aspects of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies therefore can and do apply to the processes of delivering care. Our UCD programme Graduates have applied Lean Six Sigma and Person-centred approaches 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 and Community Health.

You can view the course brochure here.


This interdisciplinary programme 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 will lay the groundwork for building a healthcare transformation by training the student in researching, implementing, innovating and leading on change in their own organisation and in Lean,Six Sigma and Person-centred methodologies. The programme currently welcomes students from over 50 healthcare institutions across all hospital groups and Community Healthcare Organisations in Ireland.

Integral to our approach is to synergise Lean, Six Sigma and Person-centred approaches to process and quality improvement and to ensure that our programmes align with the principles of person-centredness and contribute to Person-centred Cultures.

The ECTS credits earned contribute to the credit requirements of the  MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits).

Where and how is the training delivered?

The training is currently delivered via blended learning and will be delivered by a virtual learning platform in Trimester 1.

  • Half day Graduate Orientation (Trimester 1)
  • 18 days lecture attendance  (Trimesters 1-3)
  • Final Project presentation (duration 1 hour - Trimester 3)
  • Time for self-directed learning, research, data analysis and Project development



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 Lean Six Sigma 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 through the use of analytical and statistical techniques
  • demonstrate, through developing and leading a solo project understanding of the effectiveness of the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC 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 approches to process improvement
Student Testimonials

"a unique opportunity to obtain a recognised qualification in Lean in Healthcare. The programme was challenging and very rewarding as I gained an in-depth knowledge of the theory and principles of Lean Six Sigma methodologies and undertook research on implementing change."

"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. All skills learnt on the programme were easily translatable to hospital life and I thoroughly enjoyed listening and participating with my fellow healthcare leaders in the classroom."

"I have realised the far reaching applications and everyday uses of Lean Six Sigma methodologies. This effective and motivational learning experience was further enhanced with the supportive mentorship of my assigned supervisor"

"Since completing the Graduate Diploma I have been appointed in a Quality Improvement role within my organisation and have successfully led a number of large scale and small scale change and quality initiatives."

"The availability of my supervisor enabled me to discuss any issues as they arose to ensure my improvement project stayed on track over the course of the programme"


Assessment Strategies
  • Module specific Academic Assignments
  • Module specific group and individual presentations
  • Incremental Project 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 a academic award)
Attendance dates 2021/2022

Class dates 2021/2022

Trimester 1 (Autumn 2021)
NMHS43400 Managing Process Improvement: Theory & Principles
(All 10:00 -16:00)
Monday 6th Sept
Monday 27th Sept
Monday 11th Oct
Monday 1 Nov
Monday 15 Nov
Trimester 2 (Spring 2022)
NMHS43610 Strategic Leadership for Healthcare Improvement and Innovation
(All 10:00 - 16:30)
Wednesday 12th January
Wednesday 9th February
Wednesday 9th March
Wednesday 6th April
Trimester 2 (Spring 2022)
NMHS43620 Innovations in Healthcare Local and Global
(All 10:00 - 16:30)
Wednesday 26th January
Wednesday 23rd February
Wednesday 23rd March
Wednesday 11th May
Trimester 2/3 (Spring/Summer 2022)
NMHS43810 Implementing a Process Improvement Project (IMPIP)
(All 10:00-16:00)
Monday 31st Jan
Monday 28th Feb
Monday 11th April
Monday 20 June
Trimester 3 (Summer 2022)
Final Project presentation (1 hr)
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 Leadership, Innovation and Management, you can contact the MSc Programe Director, Professor Martin McNamara directly for advise on module choice 


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).

• EU fees information

• Non-EU fees information

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)

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

There are two instances in which you can apply to have recognised prior learning taken into account when applying for a programme in UCD.

1. RPL for admission to a UCD programme

If you are a prospective student seeking admission to UCD and you do not meet the required admissions criteria as set down for a particular programme of study in UCD, you may apply to be admitted based on prior learning.

2. RPL for exemption from a module or modules on a UCD programme

If you have been accepted onto a UCD programme and wish to have credit transferred towards the requirements of the UCD programme of study, you may apply for RPL from a module or modules.

When applying for RPL, please note the following:

  • You must submit your application for RPL as early as possible and preferably before you commence the relevant module/stage/programme.
  • An application for RPL relating to a particular module should be submitted before the third week of the trimester in which it is offered. Applications made after this date will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the Taught Graduate Standing Committee and Programme Board. You can expect to hear of the outcome or status of your application typically within four to six weeks of submitting it (depending on committee schedules).
  • Please note that in some cases your application may not be successful or you may not receive RPL for the amount of credit for which you applied, therefore you must register for, attend and participate in the module or modules until you have been informed of the decision of the School Programme Board.
  • If your application is not successful, you are responsible for all assessments associated with the module.


Please read the UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning at this link: UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning


Selected Graduate and Faculty publications


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).


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, Optimizing 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 optimizing 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