Patient and Family Advisory Councils: What to Look for When Recruiting Members

Patient and Family Advisory Councils, otherwise known as a “PFAC”, are an ideal way to foster partnerships and solution based dialogue between the healthcare team and the community. As part of my series on Patient and Family Advisory Councils, I wanted to talk about ideal traits to look for when recruiting community members to be a part of your PFAC.

There are six different attributes that are key when looking to see if someone is a good candidate to be a part of your PFAC:

  • Have they had previous healthcare experience?

It seems like stating the obvious, but you want to make sure whoever you are recruiting has had relatively significant personal healthcare experience. They may have been a close family member, or in some cases a close friend, of someone who has had experiences in healthcare. They will need this point of reference to draw from in order to promote meaningful dialogue as well as cultivate ideas for improvement.

  • Are they able to see outside of their own experience for the greater good?

Some community members may not be at a point where they can see past their own experiences in order to see the bigger picture and how others are affected in similar or different  ways. It’s important that you recruit members who can draw on their own experiences but also see how their experiences fit into a much bigger picture.

  • Are they able to look at issues beyond what they may have experienced personally? 

Members who can draw on their own personal experience while at the same time are interested and passionate about improving many different aspects of healthcare–whether they have personally experienced them or not–are the people you will want to recruit. If they only are interested in fixing “their” problem, and are not willing and able to look at other issues as well, you’ll want to pass.

  • Do they have a broad reach and influence in the community?

This is a wonderful opportunity to build a link between your organization and the community. By recruiting members who are actively involved in the community in other aspects, they will be able to bring a greater knowledge of issues as well as represent and speak to dialogue and improvements coming out of the PFAC. Not everyone has to be a prominent community member, but having those that are dispersed on your PFAC is a huge bonus to foster a relationship with the community.

  • Can they commit?

From the beginning, you’ll want the time commitment to be explicitly discussed and agreed upon. Whether your PFAC meets monthly or quarterly, whether the term is 1 or 3 years, you’ll want your members to know the commitment and be willing to dedicate the time in order to be a valued member on the council.

  • Are they comfortable sharing their honest thoughts and opinions in a group setting with a wide variety of people?

PFACs will consist of a wide range of individuals with broad background and experience levels. Members will need to be comfortable sharing their insights and thoughts in a productive and solution oriented way to a group including other members, doctors, nurses, administration, and others. You’ll want to look for people who have the skills to be able to communicate effectively in a group setting.



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