Monthly Engagement Tip: Introducing a Patient and 
Family Advisor

Continued from the January 2017 edition of Together We're Better

On the surface, introducing a Patient and Family Advisor onto a project team or committee seems like a simple step that hardly warrants a discussion. However, introductions can be a powerful relationship builder for everyone, in this case the Patient and Family Advisor and the rest of the team/committee. As a result, it is recommended that great thought and consideration be taken in how Patient and Family Advisors are introduced and what goes into the content of the introduction.

Given that a Patient and Family Advisor is typically asked to join a project team/committee because of their personal health experiences it is common to think that those experiences should be shared during the introduction. Although these experiences are highly relevant to their placement, sharing them during an introduction might not be the best strategy. Instead consider introducing a patient and family advisor using a professional introduction.

Example of a Staff Introduction of a Patient/Family Advisor: I would like to welcome Annabelle Fraser (not a real Advisor name) to our project as a Patient and Family Advisor. As we move forward, Annabelle will contribute to the project by helping us see how certain issues might be understood from a patient and family perspective based on her experience.

Suggested topics for the patient advisor bio include:

  • Relevant patient/family experience with group/committee work (high level only)
  • Credentials (e.g. professional designation)
  • Past and current patient advisory work
  • Work history and key work achievements
  • Other volunteer or committee work
  • Other notable projects or achievements

TIP: Since introductions are the basis of building relationships, it is recommended to consider crafting an introduction to benefit both the person being introduced but the rest of the group.

Sometimes it might be beneficial for a patient and family advisor introduction to include more personal information about the specifics of their healthcare experience but this is only recommended when the sharing is going to be reciprocal. When this happens, it doesn’t mean every team member has to share something personal per se but rather something that will create a level of vulnerability that can contribute to fostering a safe and supportive sharing environment for all team members. Otherwise, one way sharing of personal information has the potential to create a power differential which can ultimately affect the achievement of team goals and outcomes.

Many patient and family advisors are motivated to volunteer because of their personal experiences. If the advisor wants to share their story and the chair believes this would be helpful for the team, dedicated committee time should be scheduled and the patient and family advisor should be coached in story telling techniques. Contact the ACH PFCC team for information and coaching on storytelling at

Adapted from the Guidebook for Engaging Patient and Family Advisors, January 2016 by AHS Patient Engagement.