Patient Partner Perspective: What I Learned from Being on the Oversight and Advisory Committee

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As you may have heard, we are looking for four patient partner and two health care partner representatives to fill vacancies on PVN’s Oversight and Advisory Committee. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the Network. Share your voice at the table with other patient and health care partners as you collectively make decisions about PVN activities!

Since we’re looking to fill these six spaces on the Committee, that means we are saying thank you and goodbye to our outgoing members. We asked Betty Murray (left), one such outgoing member, to tell us a bit more about her experience on the Committee and what she’ll take away from her two-year term:

What inspired you to join the O&A committee?

I first joined PVN when my cousin phoned me up to tell me about an orientation session and we went to find out what this was all about. I learned about how patient partners could help change the culture of the health care system and wanted to be involved. With the Oversight and Advisory Committee, I was inspired by the opportunity to work as a team with both patient partners and health care professionals, looking at innovative improvements and finding positive solutions for issues within the health care system. It’s an interesting working relationship where we hear both sides of every situation and come to a conclusion that’s satisfactory to everyone.

Sounds like you gained some valuable knowledge of the balance needed in health care decisions. How has this experience changed your perspective as a patient partner?

It has helped me to understand the development process for a program that is within the guidelines of an organization. This is an important aspect because, although a group or team may have a lot of great ideas, all the variables need to be examined: resources, time, finances, etc. We rely on that necessary information to make a more considered decision. I take what I’ve learned on the committee to other opportunities with PVN. My curiosity always makes me ask the how, what, when, and where of a situation; that comes in handy as a patient partner. Patient partners look at the concerns of the Committee through the lens of a patient or family member, but sometimes the topic at hand needs a slightly different focus. It’s about finding a middle ground there, and it’s nice to have the support of the team of other committee members.

What are you most proud of from your time on the committee?

I’m not proud of my individual achievements but of those of the entire team. Together, we decided on the PVN logo and talked about methods for how patient partners can network with others, such as having business cards or ID badges. Every discussion, even if it may seem trivial, is useful. I enjoyed being able to participate in dialogues and discussions involving both patient and health care partners and arriving at a solution-focused outcomes about policies and procedures pertaining to the evolving Patient Voices Network. During the process of making these decisions, I was able to have my own experience and knowledge validated, while carefully looking at what I don’t know. This was an opportunity to ask questions, read documents, and learn how to find out more on my own.

What advice do you have for incoming members?

I never give advice, but I do offer options for people. As a patient partner, I would say you are really able to make a difference. Committee members should be willing to learn, look at situations through a patient lens, understand your role on the Committee, and have the courage to speak out. You can expect respect and that others will actively listen. And, of course, a sense of humour and a smile go a long way.

Anything else you’d like to add about your volunteer experience?

I’m sorry to come to the end of my time on the committee but I respect that others will join and the torch will carry on. There will be new voices, new experiences, and new situations to work on!

Thank you so much for your time and energy over the last two years, Betty! We also wish to give a warm thanks to the rest of the outgoing members, who have also given so much to PVN!

Written by Lauren McGuire-Wood

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