ProfCert Process Improvement in Health Systems

UG Certificates & Diplomas (level 8 nfq)

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 Course Brochure here.

Selected Graduate and Faculty Publications

Did you know that a number of students actively publish research in their chosen area from this programme. View a list of the latest Selected Graduate and Faculty Publications here.

Curricular information is subject to change

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

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.

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.

View All Modules Here

Assessment Strategies

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

  • Ongoing review and development of a team based incremental process improvement project
  • Final recorded presentation of a team based  process improvement project for an expert panel
  • Individual assignment reflecting on the use of Person-centred models of improvement in healthcare

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.

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

Attendance dates 2024/25

The dates for 2024/25 are:

Graduate Orientation: September: date to be confirmed

Trimester 1

18th Sept

16th Oct

13th Nov

Trimester 2 

22nd Jan

26th Feb


Final improvement project submission 26th April 2025

ProfCert Process Improvement in Health Systems (X925) Part Time
EU          fee per credit - € 167.4
nonEU    fee per credit - € 323.33

***Fees are subject to change

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.

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!"

The following entry routes are available:

Prof Cert Process Improvement in Health Systems PT (X925)
Undergraduate Cert and Diploma
6 Months
Part Time

Applications are made online through UCD Applications. 

Please note that all applicants are required to pay a €60 application fee. Your application cannot be processed fully unless the application fee has been paid.

Apply online

Does this programme have an official conferring ceremony?

Please note there is no online or in-person conferring ceremony for this programme. Your parchment will be posted to you by UCD Conferring.