A resolution is a written document that represents the basis for position statements, policies, guidelines, and actions. Resolutions are presented as a matter of significant importance to an organization's delegation or membership. A resolution requires debate, consensus, buy-in, like-mindedness, support, and passion. Resolutions address issues relevant to the specific organization and those things that are held as a tenet, benchmark practice, desired future state, or affirmed recommendation by that organization or body as a whole.
The structure of a resolution is primarily composed of two parts: the "where as" statements and the "resolved" statements. Specifics on construction of these two types of statements follow. Additionally, organizational specifics that address congruency with the mission, vision, and values of an organization; budget impact; background; literature review; recommendations; charges and responsibilities; and support/sponsorship may be used as content portions of a resolution. The target organization should be contacted for specific guidelines and process. Many organizations have a template, process, examples, and resources. You should review available past resolutions presented to the intended organization; if none are available, request a sample. Don't forget to inquire about the handling procedure and what to expect, such as:
- Will a committee or liaison receive proposals of resolutions?
- What are the guidelines for writing?
- What's the time line?
- What are the corresponding and presenting responsibilities for the authors?
Submitting a resolution is an excellent way to bring an issue to the attention of a group or organization. Even if it isn't adopted, the exposure and visibility that are inherent in bringing the resolution to maturity shouldn't be undervalued—it's a beginning.
The initial step is selection of the topic or issue. Although this might seem apparent, careful thought should be given to the breadth and scope of the resolution. It should be broad enough to be generalized, but not so broad that it's without pertinence; not so focused that it's prescriptive, yet tactical enough to be operational and produce results. The topic of the resolution is one that's reflective of the purpose and scope of the organization. An essential step at this point is careful exploration of the organization's mission, vision, and values to ensure that the direction, language, intent, and possible outcomes of the resolution are in sync with that of the organization. Give due diligence to review of past resolutions, noting those of same, similar, or related subject matter. Although exact duplication should be avoided, it isn't a fait accompli if the subject has been brought to resolution in the past but failed to progress. Ask these questions: Is the timing right now? What failed previously? Is it still pertinent? What additional support is needed? What's different now? After topic selection is complete, the title of the resolution is listed, followed by the name of the author(s).
A literature review is necessary to document the need, pertinence, and importance of the resolution and to present the necessary body of background information to power it. As much as possible, include sound scientific references, both quantitative and qualitative. The background information should contain factual and scientifically researched information, as opposed to anecdotal and opinion content. The where as statements are grounded by best practices and current knowledge and supported by literature. After determining the topic of perfect scope, obtaining information from the organization, performing a review of the literature, and studying examples, it's time to write the initial draft of the resolution.
Writing the initial draft
The where as statements present the need for the resolution. You're telling the reader, the delegates, and the membership why this action is needed. The where as statements explain and defend the issue. They should be kept short, concise, and pointedly relevant to the issue. The where as statements should be referenced to the literature as much as possible. A reference list accompanies the resolution, which reflects the citations for the where as statements.
Each where as statement starts a new paragraph, beginning with the words "where as" with the "w" being capitalized in each paragraph. The where as statements aren't ended with a period, but close with a semicolon. The last where as statement likewise ends with a semicolon and leads into the connecting phrase beginning with, "Therefore, be it resolved...". This phrase ends with a colon, and is followed by the resolved statements.
The resolved statements contain the statement of belief, philosophy, and commitment and the actions that you want the organization to take on the issue. The resolved statements reflect the topic statement of the resolution. Each resolved statement is a separate paragraph, with the word "that" following the words "be it resolved." Each statement ends with a semicolon until the last paragraph, which ends with a period.1
The aforementioned parts of the resolution (budget impact, background, literature review, recommendations, charges and responsibilities, and support/sponsorship) will vary according to the organization, but it's imperative to include these if it's customary to the organization. As far as sponsorship and support, the writer(s) of the resolution is/are the perfect person(s) to canvass members and leaders within the target organization for support—locally, regionally, and nationally. It may be form to include names, titles, and locations of sponsors and supporters in the resolution document.
Some organizations assign a liaison or advisor. This individual functions as a resource and can be a huge benefit to the author(s). The liaison is the conduit and an expert advisor in both form and process. Frequent, thorough, and clear communication is the simple key to success in working with the liaison. If a liaison or advisor isn't provided, take every opportunity to network with others within your professional circle, especially those who are members and leaders of the target organization, to read and critique the resolution. Stay open to other ideas, views, and words. The more expert opinion involved in crafting the resolution, the greater the odds of credibility and success.
Presenting the resolution
When the resolution reaches the stage of presentation, be very familiar with the process and decorum of the organization, standards of operation, and meeting rules and environment. Know time allotments, points to cover, and flow of the events. Don't expect everyone to agree and support. Expect discussion, questions, and differing views. Try to anticipate potential questions and be prepared to answer as many as possible. If you're unable to answer a question, request the possibility to provide the answer at a later time and provide contact information so that follow-up can be conveyed to that individual. You should close the loop for all questions and comments.
Most likely, amendments will follow presentation and discussion. Be familiar with the amendment process, time lines, and author's responsibility. Be open to suggestions for changes to allow successful results.
Consider these strategies for successful resolutions:
- Be concise. Delegates or members will get copies of the resolution. If it's too wordy, it's less likely to be read and it won't get the attention it deserves. Include only as many where as and resolved statements as necessary to present the issues in a meaningful, but succinct fashion.
- Be realistic. The resolved statements should include specific, realistic, and implementable actions that are within the scope of the organization. Resource availability, including personnel, time requirements, and capital expenditures, will affect implementation and success.
- Be positive. A positive approach always provides an advantage. Write positive statements and address the issue positively when presenting the proposed resolution and in responding to questions.
- Be knowledgeable. Know the facts about all parts of the resolution. Be aware of other resolutions, both successful and unsuccessful, and know why reaffirmation of the same stand is appropriate.
- Gather support. Involve members, chapters, delegates, and leaders. Share the facts and issues at every venue, in person, by phone, and via electronic media. Become the expert. Encourage others to get involved and solicit their support. Form a team of supporters.
- Use your time wisely. As the author(s), you reserve the right to speak to your resolution. Don't read it; delegates and members should have a copy. Speak about the relevance and the resonance of the resolution. Take the opportunity to mention some of the facts that may not be included in the where as statements or printed copy.
- Be available. Be available to discuss the resolution and answer questions from delegates and members. Tell them when and where you'll be available. Invite inquiry as it will likely bring support.
- Have references on hand. Be knowledgeable of the supporting literature and have reference lists on hand if not included in the body of the resolution.2
As key players and providers of healthcare, it's nursing's imperative to speak to evidence-based practices, safety, quality, legislation, and other actions that improve outcomes and provide value in healthcare. The effort put forth in crafting a resolution to achieve practice change and improvement is a loud voice for patient and family advocacy.