Patient and Family Advisory Councils: Frequently Asked Questions

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Q. What does PFA stand for and what does it mean?


A. Patient and Family Advisor, a person who voluntarily shares their perspective as a patient or family member to help us improve how we deliver care.


Q. What is the primary goal of the PFA Partnership program?


A. To partner with patients and family members to improve the quality of care and services we provide and to improve the overall patient and family experience. We want to use the constructive input that only patients and family members can provide to help future patients experience even higher levels of satisfaction.


Q. Who can become a Patient and Family Advisor?


A. Anyone who has been a patient or family member of a patient who has received health care from UW Health in the past two years.


Q. What are the qualities you seek in a PFA?


A. We are seeking people who are willing to speak the truth about their experiences within UW Health in an honest and constructive manner for the purpose of improving how we deliver care. We seek to have a wide and diverse base of PFAs who reflect the patient population at UW Health. To that end, all patients are welcome; individuals with diverse backgrounds and young adults are especially encouraged to apply.


Q. What are the steps to become a PFA?


A. It is a three-step process:

  • Step 1: Complete and submit the online PFA Interest Form.
  • Step 2: Have a phone conversation with the program manager or program assistant to discuss more about your interest and background, to learn more about the program and help us assess whether you are the right match for this role.
  • Step 3: Attend an in-person PFA Orientation Session and complete some additional paperwork, including a background check.

Q. What is the time commitment required for PFAs?


A. There are no minimum hours required. You get to decide when and how much time you have to give. Some assignments require attendance at a monthly meeting for up to a two-year term, while others may be a one-time or short-term commitment. We will work to find an assignment that not only is of interest to you, but also fits into your schedule.


Q. What if I have to miss a meeting?


A. We understand that this is a volunteer role and that personal commitments may at times require you to miss a meeting. Please notify your UW Health contact person of any absences.


Q. Where do PFA meetings take place?


A. Meetings can occur at any one of the UW Health locations. You will be notified by your meeting facilitator ahead of time as to where and when the meetings take place.


Q. How will my views impact care at UW Health?


A. UW Health highly values the input of Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs). Your contributions can impact care on many levels in the organization, such as facility design, patient education, care initiation and overall compassion between providers, patients and families.


Q. What are the different PFA opportunities?


A. As a PFA, you can serve in a multitude of ways, including:

  • Monthly Standing Committees
  • Short-term Improvement Teams
  • One-time Focus Groups
  • Facility Design Teams
  • Search Committees For Executive Hires
  • Patient Education Material Editing
  • VOICES of UW Health (PFA Speakers Bureau)
  • Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFACs)

Once you are an active PFA, you will be assigned to a group that matches your interests and schedule. You will also be invited to consider additional opportunities as they arise. It will be your choice to participate if the opportunity is of interest to you.


Q. What is a PFAC?


A. Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) represent a more formal way to involve patients and family members in our continuous commitment to improve the quality of care we deliver at UW Health. The advisory councils are comprised of patients, families and staff. Most are facilitated via a partnership between staff and PFA co-chairs. Each council will include staff members to support the group’s mission by disseminating the members' feedback throughout the organization and helping with meeting logistics. Advisory Councils meet monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly and provide feedback on a wide variety of topics affecting the patient and family experience. Most meetings are held in the early evening or Saturday mornings to make it possible to have all ages represented.


UW Health has the following PFACs:

  • American Family Children's Hospital PFAC: Focusing on the care of pediatric patients at American Family Children's Hospital

  • Breast Center PFAC: Focusing on the needs of patients at the UW Health Breast Center

  • HVT PFAC: Focusing on the needs of patients receiving Heart, Vascular and Thoracic care services

  • MyChart PFAC: Focusing on developing and improving the MyChart online tool for patients and their families

  • Northeast Family Medical Center PFAC: Focusing on the needs of patients at the Northeast Family Medical Center

  • Oncology Services PFAC: Focusing on supporting the needs of all patients of the UW Carbone Cancer Center and their caregivers

  • Psychiatry PFAC: Focusing on the needs of UW Health Psychiatry patients

  • Transplant PFAC: Focusing on the needs of Transplant patients and their families throughout the region

  • UW Health PFAC: Focusing on the overall needs of all UW Health patients

Q. What is the VOICES of UW Health Program?


A. This group is comprised of Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) who have successfully completed the Voices of UW Health program in order to present their patient stories to an audience. As a Voices PFA, you may be requested to share your poignant UW Health patient story to any of the following: staff meetings, staff retreats, conference/symposium, academic instruction or leadership functions. If you have been impacted by your own patient care or the care of a family member at UW Health and have ambition for public speaking, we’d like to hear from you.