Committee Management is one area on the certification examination for clinical engineers to become certified clinical engineers (CCE). Falling under “General Management,” the topic comprises 11% of the CCE examination.
The clinical engineering professional may serve as a coordinator/co-chair/chair for some of the committee(s) in the hospital. This article will review some guidelines for successfully managing the committee. The term “chair” will be used to mean the chair, co-chair, or coordinator. Future articles will review the different committees of the hospital in which a clinical engineering professional may participate as a member or chair.
The clinical engineering professional may participate in the following committees at the hospital: medical equipment committee, Environment of Care committee, patient safety committee, radiation safety committee, laser safety committee, projects/construction committee, infection control committee, intensive care committee, and other committees.
Successful Committee Management
The chair must be knowledgeable about the committee’s subject matter. To be successful, the chair must be willing to learn from current and past effective committee members. In addition, he/she will learn as the committee work progresses. The chair must have good communication skills, and needs to be a good listener and organizer. The chair must communicate with members regularly and clearly on all relevant information regarding the committee activities and expectations. All correspondence addressed to the committee should be responded to in a timely manner.
The chair should keep the committee members involved in the committee’s activities through e-mail, phone, or conversation. The chair should compliment the members for their good work in writing and verbally at meetings. The chair should look for those members who are interested and engaged in the subject of the committee rather than those who have casual interest. The committee members should be asked by the chair to keep him/her informed.
Forming the Committee
The chair of the organization needs to be careful in selecting the members. They need to look for potentially good committee members and tell them what is expected of them—regular attendance and number of hours per year devoted to committee work, for example. Establish well-defined and reasonable tasks. For each project, provide a fixed completion date, the member assigned to the task, and a brief narrative summary of the task. Longer tasks should note steps or milestones completed. Emphasize with committee members the importance of their task in relation to other committee members’ work and task completion. The members who do not perform work, attend gatherings, or are not encouraged may affect the effectiveness of the committee.
Productive Committee Meetings
- Prepare and distribute the agenda to the committee members several days before the meeting.
- Make extra copies available at the meeting to keep the members’ attention on the agenda.
- Introduce the committee members at the beginning of the meeting.
- Create an informal procedure for conducting the meetings that involves all committee members in the discussion.
- Encourage the committee members to develop relationships, which will ensure that they will work together.
- Take steps to keep the committee meetings on a “conversational basis,” rather than allowing debates to develop among members.
One way of assessing the success of the committee is to measure the level and types of communication. The committees can generally be classified into the following three categories:
- Dynamic: In this committee, a lot of work gets accomplished. Members actively participate, are eager to complete their assignments on time, and they generate new ideas.
- Static: In this committee, some work is accomplished. The participation is stagnant and/or decreasing. The member’s discussion contains questions, complaints, and excuses. There may be long-overdue projects, delays in committee activities, and inappropriate suggestions by members.
- Numb: In this committee, minimal work is accomplished and there is little or no participation by the members. The correspondence and deliberations are one way with no feedback. The agenda, minutes, and other reports are communicated at the last minute. There would be no concrete output/action from the committee.
Arif Subhan, MS, CCE, is the chief biomedical engineer, VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha; adjunct assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Connecticut; and a member of 24×7‘s editorial advisory board. The suggestions and views expressed in this article are of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the University of Connecticut. For more information, contact .