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Patients and their families expect quality care from their nurse providers. There has been a movement toward "shared governance," a system which is based on the belief that patient care can be improved when practice decisions are made by the health care providers working closest with the patient. Shared governance becomes a living part of the mission of the health care organization in the form of nursing professional practice councils. These councils, which represent different areas of patient care including a council on quality and professional development, help to define and advance the practice of nursing within the organization.
Develop a mission statement that reflects the purpose and goals of the nursing professional practice council, such as, " The nursing professional practice council directs and maintains the standards of nursing and clinical care based on evidenced-based nursing practices."
Define the purpose of the nursing professional practice council. For example: "Delineate the scope of nursing care" and "Review, revise and approve nursing policies and procedures."
Write bylaws for the nursing professional practice council that include the mission statement, its purpose and the membership guidelines. Include sections that describe the officers, the meeting schedule and how the bylaws will be amended.
Approve the nursing professional practice council bylaws per the policy of the organization.
Identify nurses who would be willing and interested in taking part in the nursing professional practice council.
Identify "stakeholders" in the shared governance process, such as nursing directors, unit managers and clinical nursing specialists.
Reserve a room and overhead equipment, if needed, for the nursing professional practice council meeting. Consider holding the meeting off campus and provide a lunch if possible.
Prepare invitations to identified nurses that explain the mission and purpose of the nursing professional practice council.
Prepare an agenda and relevant handouts. Plan to include a brief review of the bylaws stressing the importance of the purpose and goal of shared governance.
Send a copy of the agenda and the appropriate handouts to the nurses who responded to the invitation along with a note to express thanks for their interest.
Prepare sign in sheets per the organization's procedures.
Caroline Adams has been a professional writer and educator since 1980. She has published articles on health-care risk management and continuing education for health-care professionals. Her credentials include a nursing degree, a B.A. in pre-law, a M.A. in health-care law and a M.Ed. from DePaul University. She has taught at several colleges and universities in the Midwest including the University of Illinois and DePaul University.