Advancing quality culture in health professions education: experiences and perspectives of educational leaders

G. W. G. Bendermacher*, D. H. J. M. Dolmans, W. S. de Grave, I. H. A. P. Wolfhagen, M. G. A. Oude Egbrink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The concept of quality culture has gained increased attention in health professions education, drawing on insights that quality management processes and positive work-related attitudes of staff in synergy lead to continuous improvement. However, the directions that guide institutions from quality culture theory to educational practice have been missing so far. A prospective qualitative case study of three health professions education programmes was conducted to explore how a quality culture can be enhanced according to the experiences and perspectives of educational leaders. The data collection was structured by an appreciative inquiry approach, supported with vignette-based interviews. A total of 25 participants (a selection of course coordinators, bachelor coordinators and directors of education) reflected on quality culture themes to learn about the best of what is (Discover), envision positive future developments (Dream), identify actions to reach the desired future (Design), and determine how to support and sustain improvement actions (Destiny) within their own educational setting. The results are presented as themes subsumed under these four phases. The experiences and perspectives of educational leaders reveal that peer learning in teams and communities, attention to professional development, and embedding support- and innovation networks, are at the heart of quality culture enhancement. An emphasis on human resources, (inter)relations and contextual awareness of leaders stood out as quality culture catalysts. Educational leaders are therefore encouraged to especially fuel their networking, communication, coalition building, and reflection competencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-487
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number2
Early online date12 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Appreciative inquiry
  • Continuous quality improvement
  • Educational leadership
  • Faculty development
  • Organisational learning
  • Quality culture

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