Principal Pharmacist Wong Jane Ai reveals how she overcame doubts about coaching for quality improvement (QI) to helping her project teams shine. 

The QI Coach Faculty began in 2015, and you were from the first batch of coaches. It was an entirely new role and programme – did you ever have any doubts? 

Jane Ai: My QI journey actually started 3 years earlier in 2012 when I was involved in tracking the daily manpower movement for more than 90 staff in the Outpatient Pharmacy. I was immediately drawn to the systematic way of tackling problems and seeking solutions. The project was eventually selected as one of the finalists for Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) Project of the Year. Other projects soon followed. 

As a QI Coach, even though I was initially worried whether I would be able to help teams scope their projects and fully utilize the QI tools, I was able to tap on the lessons learnt from past projects to help me build my confidence. I also had a lot of support from colleagues and fellow QI Coaches, and that further boosted my confidence. 

To me, the most challenging aspect of coaching is managing staff expectations on project time commitment. In the Outpatient Pharmacy, I play the dual role of roster master and QI Coach, and I have had to balance requests for time to do QI projects. I manage expectations by being upfront to project teams from the start, that most of the time spent on projects will be at their own time. However, it is time well spent because the experience gained in the process is priceless.

What other insights have you gained from coaching for QI?

Project teams often try to perfect their pilot plans. But one thing I’ve learnt is that pilots do not have to be perfect. It is far more productive to implement an early version of your idea and improve on it according to feedback received. 

What are your goals as a QI Coach?

I enjoy exploring the feasibility of QI initiatives and get really excited when projects begin. I also enjoy planning bonding sessions to thank colleagues for working together to implement new initiatives.

But I am happiest when I see the reaction from teams who did not expect to win awards for their successfully completed projects, the most recent example being the prescription sorting project that won an award at this year’s Singapore Healthcare Management Congress. I hope it spurs them on to take on more projects in the future.


Susan Lim Suyu, Pharmacist, presents the team's winning poster at SHMC 2018.

(From left) Susan with other project team members from Pharmacy - Rachel Gan Ee Ling, Seah Sok Eng, Reynaldo Jr Llacer Pastrana, Kimberly Gabumpa Borgonia and Jade Ann P De San Andres.

My goal is to create and spread a culture where everyone is actively involved in making improvements to our work, not just by doing QI projects which can take months to complete, but also be willing to work on small improvement ideas that can be rapidly tested and implemented. This would make our work environment better and more efficient. 

What 3 words would your teams use to describe you?

I am told that I am patient, as projects take time to complete and follow up. Meticulous because I pay attention to details and as QI Coach I try to think of different factors that the teams might not have considered so that their projects will be more holistic. Lastly, conscientious because I will see a project through to completion.

In your opinion, what kind of qualities should a QI Coach possess?

A QI Coach should be approachable, for project teams to freely start conversations on ideas for improvements. He/she should also provide support to project teams, keeping a fine balance between guiding the team and giving them enough space to learn and grow in their QI journey. 

Anyone in the hospital can start a QI project. You can visit the QI Guide on Infopedia to begin your journey. QI Coaches will be assigned to guide you through the project. We have 70 QI Coaches in SGH – do you know who they are? Click here to find out. 

This is a Quality Improvement article contributed by Sng Ei Leen, Executive, Dept of Process Transformation and Improvement. Follow us on QI Marketplace (Workplace) to learn about QI tips! 

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