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Established by the A.P. Sloan Foundation, the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership aims to increase the number of Indigenous Americans earning master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM disciplines.

Meet a Sloan Scholar
Robert Dorsey
M.S. Candidate, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering


Hometown: Browning, MT, member of the Blackfeet Nation

Education History: 
A.S. in Computer Science Information Systems, Blackfeet Community College
B.S Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, Montana State University

Sloan Scholar, 2016-2018
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2016
Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation Native American Graduate Fellowship, 2016-2017

Professional Organizations/Activities:
American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Montana State University
EMPower Peer Mentoring Program (assisting students in finding resources needed to succeed in college both academically and personally, meeting weekly to check progress)

In His Own Words...

I am working with my research advisor, Dr. David Claudio, to develop a continuous improvement model to help improve patient satisfaction at healthcare clinics in rural areas, specifically on Native American reservations. The overall aim is to close gaps[1] between clinical staff services and the expectations of patients. It is critical for patients to receive needed care at local healthcare facilities because given the remote location and low-income level of Native communities, traveling to other facilities is frequently not a viable option. A continuous improvement model will allow healthcare staff to determine specific areas to apply resources to improve patient satisfaction.

My research study is a collaboration with a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) healthcare clinic operated on an Indian reservation in the Pacific Northwest United States. After completion of a visit with a physician at this facility, patients are asked to complete the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), which is sent by mail after the visit. Low satisfaction scores on the HCAHPS have led to reduced funding to the facility as well as lower ranking in accreditation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Satisfaction ratings of CMS facilities are available to the public and can be found online to aid patients in selection of their healthcare unit.

To create the continuous improvement model, I am employing a Quality Function Deployment[2] (QFD) method as well as survey tools and statistical analysis. The QFD method can transform the voices of the patients, captured through surveys and interviews focused on service expectations, into a comprehensive quality system design. I plan to administer the survey at the conclusion of the patients’ visit to the clinic. The analysis of patient expectations in accordance with the service provided should reveal the critical service areas that are important to patients to ultimately redirect resources to improve any shortcomings in those areas.

After data collection and analysis are complete for the reservation health clinic participating in the study, the results will be compared with findings from a similar study being conducted at a rural, non-Native healthcare clinic. I also am considering including a comparative study between the HCAHPS survey and the Picker Patient Experience[3] survey to determine whether one is more reliable than the other in the context of my study.

[1] Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1985). Journal of Marketing, 49(4), 10.

[2] Camgöz-Akdağ, H., Tarım, M., Lonial, S., & Yatkın, A. (2013). QFD application using SERVQUAL for private hospitals: a case study. Leadership in Health Services26(3), 175-183.

[3] Jenkinson, C., Coulter, A., & Bruster, S. (2002). The Picker Patient Experience Questionnaire: development and validation using data from in-patient surveys in five countries. International Journal for Quality in Health Care14(5), 353-358.