Ask the expert: How do councils decide what they will work on?

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, July 14, 2009

This week, a reader asks about how shared governance councils decide what projects to tackle. Read the response from advisor Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, APN, RN-BC, ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) director at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Bay Pines, FL.

Q: How do your councils come up with ideas or projects to work on?

A: Our unit-based councils manage practice, quality, and competence related to professional nursing and use a form developed by our nursing practice council to move needs and/or recommendations forward to a governing (central) council for a decision, boundaries, and/or support for action that then goes back to the originating unit-based council for consideration and/or implementation. If a governing council believes the issues raised by a unit-based council involve more councils, they bring the issue(s) to the coordinating council for discussion among the councils and other resource personnel invited to help with resolution or recommendations. At any point, an ad hoc task group may be assigned to an identified need or request for change/improvement. They then report back to the group they are representing for communication of outcomes to all appropriate individuals and/or groups.

We are very careful not to assign work to our governing councils that is not appropriate to their purpose, responsibilities, and accountabilities as delineated in their bylaws and within our shared governance infrastructure. To help with this, each council has a nurse leader as a liaison who advises, counsels, facilitates, and mentors the council's membership, other employees, and our communities of practice about the roles and responsibilities of the nursing governance councils. They have been critical to the current success of our governing councils and the incremental progress we continue to enjoy in our MRP journey together.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? If you would like us to consider your query for publication, please e-mail it to senior managing editor Rebecca Hendren at

Most Popular