Improve meeting minutes with these tips

Residency Program Insider, December 4, 2020

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Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Residency Program Alert. To read the entire article, click here.

Although writing meeting minutes is a tedious task, no one can dispute their importance. Besides reporting Milestone data to the ACGME in the Accreditation Data System (ADS) twice a year, your institutional GME office may also require specific documentation. Thus, it is important that your clinical competency committee (CCC) meeting be documented accurately and thoroughly by a designated individual. This person can be a CCC member, a secretary, or—most likely—the program coordinator.

Meeting minutes are an official record of what happened during a meeting, and their principal purpose is to provide committee members with a:

  • Summary of discussions
  • Record of decisions and actions the committee voted and agreed upon
  • Reminder of outstanding business to discuss during the next meeting

Because minutes are the record of CCC business, they carry important implications. Coordinators must ensure that minutes provide an accurate account of meetings, where high-stakes decisions are made regarding a resident’s progress.

The quality and accuracy of minutes depend on the coordinator knowing:

  • What to include in the minutes
  • How to organize the minutes

Enhance your confidence in taking meeting minutes with the following seven tips.

To include or not to include?

Determining how much detail to include in meeting minutes can be one of a coordinator’s biggest challenges. Consider the following tips when summarizing discussions in the minutes:

Focus on agenda items: Minutes should not detail every point leading up to a motion or a vote. Nor should they be a verbatim report of the discussion, says Nancy Poblenz, DDS, JD, corporate counsel in the legal services group of Catholic Health Initiatives’ (CHI) St. Luke’s Health in Houston. Instead, minutes should concisely summarize the:

  • Discussion
  • Decisions and agreed actions
  • Follow-up items

“Minutes should be a summary of the points that the committee considered in the deliberation before it came to a vote,” Poblenz says.

It is common for committee members to have tangential or side conversations. However, minutes should only include information relevant to the items listed on the agenda. Do not include side discussions in the minutes unless they lead to a decision, Poblenz says. Additionally, keep irrelevant conversations out of the minutes by helping the chair limit those conversations.

Each organization will include a different level of detail in its minutes. If you’re new to your position or organization, Theresa Buck, CPCS, director of medical staff services at CHI’s Vintage Hospital in Houston, recommends:

  • Reading and reviewing past minutes to get a sense for the amount of detail to include
  • Meeting with legal counsel or your manager to understand the expectations for minutes

However, as a general rule, Poblenz says less is often better. “I very rarely find a situation where I go, ‘Oh, you didn’t write enough.’ I very frequently find a situation where I say, ‘I really wish you hadn’t written all of this,’ ” she says.



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