Our unit has a shared governance with 4 different quadrants: customer service, quality of worklife, practice and research, and education. Each quadrant has a chair and co-chair as well as the chair and co-chair of the shared governance. Ours meets once a month for 2 hours. We have bylaws and a mission statement.
The basic reason for shared governance is to bring decision making to the bedside, especially when it affects the bedside nurse. Some topics we have covered; weekend on-call for staffing, new education topics, social events for staff gatherings, signage for our visitor waiting room, new protocols for patient care.
You really have to have a 100% commitment from the chairs and co-chairs for it to work. You also have to have a manager who believes in the process and is willing to let the council make decisions. Ideally, the chairs and co-chairs of each quadrant would engage the staff to be involved. All decisions are taken to the staff and decided by a vote so even if someone can't make it to the meeting their voice is heard.
There are several great resources on-line regarding shared governance. It is very slow to develop but once you can get a strong base it will be worth it.