One of the goals of the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing report was to increase the leadership and organizational involvement of nurses at all levels. As a nurse, you can make a difference and increase your voice and leadership skills by being a valuable member of a hospital committee.
Committees serve to make decisions or plans for a larger group of people, which frequently involves finding a solution to a problem. Whether your facility is MAGNET-designated or not, committees play a major role in increasing the collaboration among staff members at all levels of an organization.
The article titled “How Shared Governance In Nursing Works,” explains that MAGNET hospitals realize committees aligned with shared governance concepts help nurses have more control over their practice and increase their autonomy. With this in mind, it can be advantageous for both organizations and nurses to incorporate and participate in hospital-wide and division-based committees.
Typically, an experienced committee chair will outline the purpose, team member expectations and time-commitment needed to fulfill its goals. These guides will serve as a roadmap for effective committee members who will be engaged and go above and beyond to make sure that the goals and expectations are fulfilled.
Some of the qualities that an effective committee team member possesses include:
- Responsible - Get the support of your supervisor to be an active member of the committee. Make sure that your work in the unit will be covered and that you will not compromise patient care by attending the meetings.
- Prompt - Although patient issues may arise which can cause you to be late, make every attempt to be in your seat at the start of the meeting. If you are going to be late, notify the chair.
- Prepared - Read the minutes from the last meeting and be prepared to discuss the items on the agenda. Ask your teammates for their input on any issues that will be discussed or decisions that will be made.
- Enabler - Offer to lead a sub-committee or be responsible for a certain task. This shows you are invested in the group and its success.
- Compelling - Contribute to discussions when you have valuable information to share. Add your thoughts and ideas while being polite and respectful to those that have differing views or opinions.
- Dutiful - At the end of the meeting, make sure you understand any homework you have and the next steps for the committee. Be diligent about completing your assignment prior to the next meeting.
- Detail-Oriented - Offer a meeting summary to the staff and ask for input on open issues.
- Optimistic - Be positive and open to new ideas. There may be a more effective way of thinking about issues than the way you have thought about them for years.
To put this into a real-world application, suppose you are asked to be a member of the Pain Committee that is tasked to develop a pain protocol for patients getting IVs inserted. Some of the activities that an effective team member would undertake in this situation are:
- Consult with your supervisor if you can participate as a committee member.
- Prior to the meeting, talk to your colleagues about different options for pain relief when getting IVs inserted. What has been tried? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?
- Research different medications and devices on the market that are used to decrease the pain for IV insertions, such as lidocaine-based creams and topical non-drug anesthetics like Pain Ease.
- Be on time and prepared for your meetings to keep everything moving efficiently.
- Discuss your research and findings clearly and concisely to the team and be open to comments and criticisms.
- Be attentive to committee member ideas. They may have a more effective way of thinking about temporary pain relief than what the status quo has been.
- Continuously work to find a solution or group of potential solutions that can help solve the problem the committee was initially tasked with.
You may think that your opinions do not matter, and therefore would prefer to not get involved in a committee; however, the opposite is true! Every person on the team brings a different set of experiences which results in many opinions and potential solutions that can lead to out-of-the-box thinking and innovative solutions to problems.
Being actively involved in a committee, either in your place of work or in your after-work activities, can be a great way to refine your leadership skills. Whether you are the committee chair or a committee member, your communication skills, accountability, open-mindedness and problem-solving abilities will be fined tuned. Plus, these qualities carryover to help to make you a more empathetic and emotionally intelligent patient caregiver.