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I want to start a unit-based council. How do I begin?

Thursday June 17, 2010
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Dear Donna,

I want to start a unit-based council on my unit — maternity child health/labor and delivery. After identifying the members and a start date, what would be my next step and what exactly do unit-based councils do?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Norma,

Were you asked to do this by your management team? If so, they should be able to give you direction as to what you should be doing with the council.

Unit-based councils are usually part of shared governance programs that give nurses an opportunity to make decisions that affect the unit, including taking part in forming policy, solving problems, making recommendations for improvements and having a say in the future direction of the unit/department. The council would report to a higher authority such as a Nurse Leadership or Shared Governance Council. If that is the case where you work, then I am sure there are guidelines for you to follow. Ask your manager or director for help. Here's a related article:

If you do an Internet search for "unit-based council," you will find examples of what some other facilities are doing. Here's an article you may find helpful: “How to Run an Effective Meeting” at www.DCardillo.com/articles/runameeting.html.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.