Professional Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems

Study Process and Quality improvement in healthcare using the Model for Improvement, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma and Person-centred methodologies. Enabling you to practice at the level of a Lean Six Sigma Green 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 is an interactive, interdisciplinary programme open to all healthcare staff at all levels and in all settings within the health system. Our graduates include staff from clinical, health estates, administrative and support services across the broad spectrum of health service delivery. The programme content is based on the experiences of health care staff in centres of excellence in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Ireland. It has developed a set of recommendations for creating effective process and quality improvement principles for healthcare application. These principles were tested and found to be effective through over 30 iterations across 16 hospitals during a 24-month period. The module also builds on the delivery of 200+ process and quality improvement projects in Ireland since 2012, led and delivered by programme graduates who are healthcare staff, within their own practice areas and institutions.

The programme consists of one dynamic module which is based on practical experience of the implementation of and ongoing research in the use of process and quality improvement methodologies in Irish healthcare contexts. The module focuses on person-centred approaches to improvement that contribute to person-centred cultures. Our team-based learning approach focuses on healthcare-specific examples to demonstrate process improvement tools and techniques. This enables the student to lead on process and quality improvement initiatives within their own healthcare organisation. The programme has welcomed students from over 50 public and private healthcare organisations across all hospital groups and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) in Ireland.

The programme will introduce students to the process improvement methodologies of Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, Person-centred care, the Model for Improvement, and relevant theories to enable them to lead hospital and other organisation-wide process and quality improvement projects. Successful participants will be awarded a Professional Certificate in Process Improvement in Health Systems by UCD (QQI Level 8; 10 ECTS credits).

The ECTS credits earned contribute to the credit requirements of the Graduate Certificate Process Improvement in Health Systems (40 ECTS credits) and to the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits). Graduates can choose to progress onto these programmes.

Where and how is the training delivered?

The programme is currently delivered via blended learning

  • Half-day Graduate orientation (Trimester 1) - online via Zoom
  • 5 class days (09:30 -16:30) over a 6-month period (Trimester 1/Trimester 2) - online via Zoom
  • Collaborative, inclusive, and participatory team working in between class days - online via Zoom or in-person at the discretion of team members
  • Assigned team mentor meetings - online via Zoom or in-person at the discretion of team mentors
  • Final group presentation (duration 30 minutes) - online via Zoom
Course objectives

On completion the student will:

  • Understand the principles, philosophy, and benefits of process improvement in healthcare.
  • Gain proficiency in Lean, Six Sigma, the Model for Improvement and Person-centred tools and practices.
  • Appreciate the role of cross-functional teams in the successful roll-out of Process improvement.
  • Distinguish between value-adding and non-value-adding elements in a process and categorise types of waste in the process.
  • Identify and complete well-defined projects that solve real issues affecting an organisation.
  • Generate sustainable improvements through active engagement of colleagues within the organisation using process improvement methodology.
  • Be able to apply technical and creative tools to solve process problems within their own organisation.
  • Be able to work effectively as a leader of a cross-functional, problem-solving team.
  • Have a good appreciation of the importance of effective communication in managing organisational change.
  • Demonstrate, through successful completion of a project, that they understand the principles and application of process improvement methodologies.
Student Testimonials

Paudy O’Gorman, Laboratory Manager, Mater Hospital

"The programme has been a great experience. I started out the programme with a basic understanding of improvement terminology and concepts and finished with a good knowledge of how to adopt process improvement practices in every day working. The mix of academic and project based learning is an excellent approach and provides an immediate opportunity to take what you learn in the classroom directly to the shop-floor."

Anthony Pierce, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist, Beacon Hospital

"A very rewarding and enjoyable programme that has provided a definite structure to critically analyse processes within the healthcare setting. The programme creates a supportive base to explore Lean Six Sigma tools to use at each stage of the improvement process. Excellent guidance on stakeholder engagement with lots of transferable skills developed along the way."

Ciara Dowling, Director of Nursing, Clontarf Hospital

"I gained a real understanding of how process improvement theory and principles can be applied to health care and how these approaches can bring real benefits to my organisation. The programme was highly motivating and energetic and I have the ability to apply process improvement methodologies to clinical scenarios."  

Anita Little, Scheduled Care Manager at Children's Health Ireland

"The UCD improvement programme has been an excellent asset to me and one that I use within my current role on a daily basis within the Children’s Health Ireland. It has given me the confidence that change is possible and that through using improvement methodologies we can improve and sustain the quality of care for patients and improve our overall work environment."

Professor Colin McMahon, Consultant Cardiologist, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin

"The programme is an outstanding opportunity to learn Lean Six Sigma and apply it to a clinical problem in your own institution. Using the DMAIC framework the lecturers will facilitate you learning key strategies to reduce variation and waste. The course includes lectures, site visits and written assignments. I would encourage teams to apply to this very instructive course if you wish to learn about emergent change in healthcare. It proved very effective in improving patient care in our outpatient department."

Anna Purcell, Senior Medical Scientist, Mater Hospital

"The programme empowers you as an individual to know you are helping generate and manage sustainable person-centred improvements that make a difference in the quality of care for patients. This is a great engine for both personal and professional development-I can’t recommend it highly enough!"

Assessment Strategies

The Programme uses a team-based learning and assessment approach and includes:

  • Team based assignments
  • Ongoing review and development of a team based incremental process improvement project
  • Presentation of team based improvement project to an expert exam panel (candidates must pass this assessment to be eligible for the academic award)
  • Team Scientific Poster

Applicants may choose to apply as part of a team of colleagues from within their organisation or as an individual.  Individual applicants will be assigned to collaborative cross-functional teams for the duration of the programme.

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

Delivered over 5 days (All classes are on Wednesday from 09:30 -16:00)

Trimester 1 Autumn 2022

  •  21st September
  •  19th October
  •  16th November

Trimester 2 Spring 2023

  •  18th January
  •  15th February

Expert panel assessment (30 minutes duration)

  • 17th May 2023.


Entry Requirements

To maximise their programme experience, Healthcare Professionals taking the programme as a stand-alone qualification should complete the Fundamentals of Process Improvement in Health Systems (or an equivalent introduction to healthcare process improvement principles) with the Mater Lean Academy/UCD or another accredited provider. Please contact the Mater Lean Academy for further details about this programme

Process improvement is initialised in a project overview document known as a Project Charter. Each applicant, as part of their online application, is required to complete a Project Charter template, outlining an idea/suggestion for a process improvement idea within their specific practice area or wider organisation. 

  • Applicants applying as part of a team should each submit a copy of their agreed team Project Charter. 
  • Individual applicants should submit a copy of their individual Project Charter but will be assigned to co-led improvement teams and will collaborate on one improvement team Project Charter for the duration of the programme.

Download your Project Charter Here.

We advise that applicants seek the support of their manager for their process improvement journey.

How to Apply

You can apply for this programme at this link here.

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


The EU fee for this programme for 2022/23 is €1518.00

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 you are being funded to do your programme, please make sure your organisation gets in contact with 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:

If you have any queries about your fees, please contact

Selected Graduate and Faculty Publications


Daly A, Teeling SP, 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. MDPI AG 19(5): 2754.

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, [online] 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, SP., 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)