Rationale, aims and objectives Healthcare professionals need a new skill set to ensure the success of quality improvement in healthcare. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiated the VA National Quality Scholars fellowship in 1998; its mission is to improve the quality of care, ensure safety, accelerate healthcare re-design, and advance the improvement science by educating the next generation of leaders in quality and safety. We describe the critical need for leadership in quality and safety and interprofessional education, illustrate the curriculum, provide lessons learned by fellows, summarize key lessons learned from the implementation of an interprofessional education approach, and present most recent accomplishments. Methods Narrative review. Results As of 2011, 106 program alumni are embedded in the health care delivery system across the United States. Since 2009, when nurse fellows joined the program, of the first nine graduating interdisciplinary fellows, the tailored curriculum has resulted in five advanced academic degrees, 42 projects, 29 teaching activities, 44 presentations, 36 publications, six grants funded or submitted, and two awards. Conclusions The VA National Quality Scholars program continues to nurture and develop leaders for the new millennium focusing on interprofessional education. The nations' health care systems need strong interdisciplinary leaders in advanced quality improvement science who are dedicated to improving the overall quality of health and health care.