From the staff development bookshelf: Designing a model for unit-level councils in shared governance

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 8, 2011

The first step in building the structure for unit-level practice councils is to select a structure for designing/steering the development of a model.

Establish a design team or steering committee of staff members to develop the structures and guiding principles for unit-level councils in nursing service. Because this structure is nurse-driven, the majority of team members should be direct-care nurses with input from nurse managers and the executive nurse. This team develops the initial model and infrastructure of unit-level councils and provides tools to help nurses implement the templates at point of service. Unit teams will then further develop their councils according to their own work and goals.

Select a chair for the design team. If this person is a direct-care nurse, a co-chair might be a nurse manager to provide guidance, resources, and boundaries as appropriate as the work evolves.

Select a liaison or facilitator for the design team. This person facilitates communication within nursing service, among the nursing staff as the unit councils are being formed, and as a contact person for the governing councils and nurse leaders. Although not required, a liaison/facilitator helps free up the other members of the design team or steering committee to do the work of developing the unit council structures, processes, and targeted outcomes. Once the unit councils are established, a facilitator can continue to monitor and oversee long-term unit projects.

Note: Once a person commits to working on the design team or steering committee, attendance and participation are not optional. Make sure nurse managers and supervisors are informed of scheduled meetings and assigned duties related to the work of the design team/steering committee to better facilitate staff involvement.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from Shared Governance: A Practical Approach to Transform Professional Nursing Practice by Diana Swihart, PhD, DMim, MSN, CS, RN-BC.

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