Skip to Main

QI in the Opioid Epidemic

Jordan Hughes

Medical School Class of 2020

Jordan Hughes


Entering medical school, I came with the mission of preparing myself for a career in global health. As I began exploring my options for how best to accomplish this mission, I found no better fit that the Quality Improvement & Patient Safety distinction.

The Office of Quality, Safety, and Outcomes Education is dedicated to teaching their distinction students evidence-based methodologies of quality improvement, so they can become leaders in health care from their first year of medical school on. The education and mentorship they provide to their students is second to none.

Equipped to improve health care

I feel equipped, with the methodological and hands-on training I’ve received, to help improve health care quality no matter what setting I find myself in – in the developed or developing world.

During my time as a distinction student, I was fortunate to work with many incredible faculty from both UTSW and UT Arlington – across many disciplines – who are all dedicated to increasing the quality and safety of patient care. When I began my work in quality improvement, the enormity of the opioid epidemic was just beginning to be realized. I thought addressing this crisis would be a great opportunity to put the methodologies I had learned in QI boot camp to practical use. I chose to focus on the human factors in health care that influence the opioid epidemic. Together with Dr. Enas Kandil – an esteemed Pain Management physician here at UTSW – and outstanding biostatisticians, I was able to measure how progressive, daily decision fatigue affects physicians’ prescription of opioids.

Interventions being implemented

Additionally, through further research, we identified decision support tools that can help increase equity of health care delivery and reduce human variability, pertaining to the prescription of opioid analgesics. These interventions are already being implemented by other distinction students, under Dr. Kandil’s leadership.

I am fortunate to have found the QI distinction, as it has taught me how to apply sound, QI methodologies to nearly any problem I encounter in health care. I believe I will be a more reliable, safe, impactful global health physician because of my participation in the QI distinction.

– Jordan Hughes, Medical School Class of 2020