What Is the PDSA Part of the Model

As mentioned earlier, PDSA stands for plan, do, study, and act. This model is commonly used to conduct tests of change in a disciplined and rapid fashion (see Figure 14.4). This structured, continuous quality improvement method has four steps that are used repetitively to test changes; it provides a clear path forward for testing ideas, learning from the testing, and moving ahead with better-informed actions to make improvements.

Walter A. Shewhart described a four-step improvement process in his 1939 book Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control. W. E. Deming, a student of Shewhart, encouraged a systematic approach to problem solving and promoted this four-step process for use in continual improvement. Deming first referred to it as the Shewhart cycle. Others have called it the Deming cycle or the Deming wheel or the PDCA (plan, do, check, act) cycle (Deming, 1986).


• Questions and predictions (why)

• Plan to carry out the cycle (who, what, where, when)


• Complete the analysis of the data

• Compare data to predictions

• Summarize what was learned

• Document problems and unexpected observations

• Begin analysis of the data

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