Make obligations of membership clear. All too often, ethics committees are comprised of individuals who attend a monthly meeting and do little else. Taking the time to identify obligations and clarify expectations will make it less likely that only a small subset of over-burdened committee members do the bulk of the work.
Choose the right members. Make sure the committee membership is representative of those who are involved in ethical questions and dilemmas that arise at the institution. The committee should be appropriately diverse in its membership, and should include a lay member or patient representative. Pick a chair or co-chairs who have excellent leadership and delegation skills.
Evaluate members & the committee. Check out these committee evaluation tools developed by Ascension Health. But don’t stop at evaluating. Be prepared to act on what you learn!
Read these Benchmarks of Ethics Committee Success identified by Anita Catlin, DNSc, FNP, FAAN, in the Fall 2006-Winter 2007 issue of the MAEC Newsletter.
Adequately educating and training ethics committee members is an ongoing challenge. The type of training each member undergoes will depend on whether all members will be involved in ethics consultation, or only a subset of members. The following suggestions are good places to start training members.