“Microbiology Committees, What works and what doesn’t”

These thoughts are based on several years experience sitting on microbiology, infection control and antimicrobial stewardship committees.

Committees per se get bad press. Just click here for some negative quotes on committees! However I don’t think they are always as bad as made out, and are probably a necessary evil in order to avoid autocracies and dictatorships.

Here is what I think works and doesn’t work on committees, microbiology committees if you like…

What works:

  • Having Internet access and electronic access to policies within the meeting room. No excuse for not having this facility in the digital age.
  • Small number of people on the committee. Any more than six and it’s an uphill struggle for any kind of consensus. Plus it takes an age for everyone to have their say….
  • Making a decision on every agenda point. Make deferring a decision a last resort as opposed to the norm. If the decision is “wrong” it’s usually not the end of the world anyway.
  • Strong chairpersonship. Striking a balance between giving everyone their say, and moving through the agenda. Also important for getting decisions made, as above.
  • “Guest appearances”. Attendance at meetings from people in specialised areas when required can be very useful. Make them feel welcome , and important.

What doesn’t work:

  • Reporting to another committee. A committee reporting to another committee can be too much bureaucracy to bear sometimes. Happens all too often in large institutions.
  • Disengaged committee members. Committee members that don’t want to be there of little use. Best to replace with willing participants where possible.
  • Sub-committees. Theoretically sounds like it might be a good idea. In my experience though, virtually useless.
  • Silence. A non-contributor in a committee meeting may as well not be there.
  • Long meetings. Two hours is my concentration limit. This seems to be getting shorter as I get older!
  • The name “committee” as already mentioned does not always carry good vibes. Could consider replacing it with something more original.

What sometimes works:

  • Skype, teleconferencing. Obviously gets round the distance issue, but sometimes there is nothing quite replaces face to face interaction….


p.s. I have added a few MCQs on Staphylococcus aureus


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