Professional 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 methodologies. Enabling you to practice as a Lean Six Sigma Green 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 download the course brochure here.


This is an interactive, interdisciplinary programme open to all healthcare staff. The content is based on the experiences of qualified Healthcare Professionals in centres of excellence in  the USA, Canada , the UK  and Ireland, and has developed a set of recommendations for creating effective process and quality improvement principles for healthcare application. These principles have been tested and have been 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 module is based on our experience of the implementation of and research in the use of  process and quality improvement methodologies in Irish healthcare contexts, in ways that are synergistic with Person-centred care and contribute to person-centred cultures.  The 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. 

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

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 leadership 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 Diploma Process Improvement in Health Systems (Black Belt) (60 ECTS credits) and to the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management for Healthcare (90 ECTS credits).

Where and how is the training delivered?

The programme is currently delivered via a virtual learning platform

  • Half day Graduate orientation (Trimester 1) 
  • 5 class days (09:30 -16:30) over a 6 month period (Trimester 1/Trimester 2)
  • Final group presentation (duration 30 minutes)
  • Half day reference site visit (Trimester 2)*

*subject to Covid restrictions and guidelines 



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 categorize 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 the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC 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 DMAIC approach and can deliver on financial targets agreed as part of the project
Student Testimonials

"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 expertise to steer project development makes this course unique"


"The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt has been a great experience. I started out the programme with a basic understanding of Lean terminology and concepts and finished with a good knowledge of how adopt Lean 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."


"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."


" a fantastic opportunity to learn about Lean systems and methodologies. As well as learning further Lean Six Sigma theories we have also had an opportunity to work on a Green Belt project as part of a team. This has been of great benefit to see the theories learned put into practice and see the impact first hand of implementing Lean Six Sigma approaches on a process"


"Lean training has provided me and my department with many practical tools for identifying waste and variation within a process and eliminating or reducing these. This promotes refinement and consistency of practise, concepts which are extremely important in the modern health service"


"Considering signing up to the Green Belt Programme? Roll your sleeves up and get ready for a hands-on, thought provoking, action-filled Lean adventure! Although the journey is short, its full of new knowledge, animation, and above all, networking and inter-disciplinary learning.​"


"The skills, knowledge and confidence I have gained from the Lean project has enabled me to appreciate my role and the role of multi-disciplinary teams in managing change in an increasingly challenging healthcare environment. The course empowers you as an individual to know you are helping generate and manage sustainable patient-centred improvements that make a difference in the quality of care for patients. This course is a great engine for both personal and professional development-I can’t recommend it highly enough."

Assessment strategies
Scientific Posters

The Programme uses a team based learning approach and includes:

  • Team based assignments
  • Assessed tollgates of incremental process improvement project development
  • Team presentation to UCD expert exam panel (candidates must pass this assessment to be eligible for the academic award)
  • Team Scientific Poster
Attendance dates 2021/2022


Class Dates 2021/2022

Trimester 1 Autumn 2021

Wed 22nd Sept

Wed 20 Oct

Wed 17 Nov


Trimester 2 Spring 2022

Wed 19 Jan

Wed 16 Feb


Group Presentation dates 2022 (1 hour duration)

Wed 18 May

Thurs 19 May


Entry Requirements

Healthcare Professionals should have completed the Fundamentals of Process Improvement in Health Systems (or equivalent introduction to healthcare process improvement principles)with the Mater Lean Academy/UCD or another accredited provider - contact

 We advise that appliants 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 as part of the MSc Leadership, Innovation and Management, and you require more information on module selection, contact the MSc Programe Director, Professor Martin McNamara directly 


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 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


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, 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)