Do you have trouble keeping your Program Advisory Committee (PAC) active and engaged? A successful PAC should strengthen your program and serve as a conduit to the community. Without the right structure and direction, however, a PAC can fall flat.

Here are tips from experts in the field on leading a successful PAC.

Consistency is key. “A successful PAC is one whose members are continuously involved and not one-time attendees,” says David Alfaro, program director for the Associate of Occupational Science Surgical Technology (AOSST) program at American Career College. “Follow up during the year, give updates on any issues and ask for feedback.” Set expectations for members so they understand the level of commitment needed, as well.

Keep communication open. PAC members will feel more engaged if they understand your program. Terry Herring, EdS, CST, CSFA, CSPDT, CSIS, COA, surgical technology division chair at Fayetteville Technical Community College, sends his PAC a newsletter in the spring and summer, when they do not meet. During their in-person meeting, a short “State of the College” video is presented to share updates from all departments. “PAC members have expressed their appreciation for being informed on other aspects of the college,” Herring notes.

Stay organized. Your time and your PAC members’ time is valuable. Show your understanding of this by keeping meetings structured, with advance notice for preparation. Herring adheres to the following:

  • Send a Doodle meeting poll (or similar, free online tool) to members at least one month in advance of the anticipated meeting time, to gather best availabilities.
  • Send a meeting agenda in advance and give members an opportunity to add items. Include reminder letters with the agenda as needed.
  • Run the meeting on a schedule and hold to it.

Show appreciation. New members in Herring’s PAC receive a welcome letter from the college president, expressing the value they bring to the role. PAC members are featured in the newsletter, and those who routinely attend meetings receive a certification of appreciation. For Alfaro, recognition also comes in the form of giving members a voice. “Make your PAC members participants. Ask for their feedback and address any concerns they may have,” he says.

Feed your PAC. ARC/STSA Board President Robin Keith, BSN, CST, RN, CNOR, notes that a little food goes a long way. For Keith, chairperson of the Surgical Technology Department at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, providing her PAC lunch gives them an opportunity to settle in as she shares updates. When they have finished eating, they are more prepared to collaborate, and offer feedback.

Putting these practices into place can help PAC members feel excited to contribute and share their expertise. If you have tips for leading a successful PAC, share with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.