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How do we develop our shared governance unit-council bylaws?


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Discuss the key drivers identified and select a framework for the operations and management of the unit council, usually bylaws or a charter. Simple guiding principles generally are not strong enough to establish the unit council as a formal structure for shared governance. Bylaws and/or charters, documents describing the formal organization and operations of the unit council and membership, emphasize the importance of the councils and their professional activities.

Develop a generic set of unit council bylaws or charter with formal descriptions for all levels of participation, responsibilities, and accountabilities:

  • Membership (nominations, term limits, commitment, dismissal from service)
  • Meetings/timelines (how often and for how long; set calendar for at least a year at a time)
  • Communications (respectful, open, honest, focused); describe how communications will:
    • Be disseminated among unit-level staff on all shifts and off-tours (e.g., weekends and holidays)
    • Flow within and among units and other practice settings (e.g., e-mail, bulletin boards, SharePoint site, newsletters [i.e., Hospice Unit Council Newsletter], staff meetings)
    • Flow between/among governing (central) councils
  • Responsibilities and accountabilities:
    • Direct-care nurses
    • Nursing leadership
    • Clinical nurse leaders (quality systems and performance measures at point of care)
    • Clinical educators and staff development specialists
    • Advanced practice nurses
    • Interdisciplinary team members (when invited to a meeting)


-- Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, RN-BC

(August 2011)