Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care
Transforming health care through partnerships

Selecting Patients and Families

We may be openly emotional when sharing our experiences but that’s O.K. We’ve decided that the benefits of being an educator outweigh the burdens.

Family Faculty Advisor, IPPC



Participation in IPE often involves open discussion of a wide range of issues relevant to health care. Conversations are frank and can at times be emotionally challenging, for patient and family members and health care professionals alike.

Patient and family members you consider inviting to serve as educators will usually have several of the following characteristics:

  • Sufficient comfort managing own health care experience, including loss
  • Ability to generalize own experience
  • Demonstrated investment in improving health care for other patients and families
  • Prior formal involvement in activities at a hospital or other health care setting, such as Patient/Family Advisory Council, committee member, or patient/family support program
  • Experience working with or making presentations to health care professionals
  • Good interpersonal communication and interaction skills
  • Desire to be involved in education of students and/or health care professionals

When beginning to identify patients and families to serve in this role, rely on your clinicians and staff – and their knowledge of patients and families with whom they have worked. Consider the following sequence in approaching patients and family members:

  1. Network with colleagues to recommend potential patients and family members who have several of the characteristics outlined above.
  2. Ask the clinician who recommends a patient or family member to make contact first, to assess initial interest and request permission to be contacted further.
  3. Contact recommended patients and family members to describe the nature of the role and commitment, and to further assess interest, background and availability.
  4. Select patients and family members based on above characteristics and "fit" with other members of the educational team.

In the process of these conversations, patients and family members will often “self-select” and indicate their own interest and/or readiness for the role being asked of them.

(Adapted from IPPC's "Families as Educators: Guidance for Implementation")