Surrogate Decision-Making Committee (SDMC) volunteers form a hearing panel at which they review an individual’s capacity, confirm there is no legally-authorized surrogate available to make the decision, and then decide whether the proposed procedure is in the individual’s best interest. Volunteers serve for two-year terms and may be reappointed for additional terms. Volunteers have the flexibility to select the days, times, and counties in which they are able to serve.
Benefits of being an SDMC Volunteer Panel Member:
- Volunteers make a big difference in someone else’s life.
- The required training is free and available online.
- The time commitment is flexible and you can choose to accept to participate or decline when asked.
- Travel for SDMC panel hearings is reimbursable.
- You will meet other professional and caring volunteers who share your desire to help people in need.
Who are our volunteers?
SDMC relies on volunteers from the following categories to serve on hearing panels:
- NYS licensed health care professional (e.g., physician, nurse, licensed social worker)
- NYS licensed attorney
- Former patients or family members of individuals with mental disabilities
- Advocate for persons with disabilities (e.g., persons with demonstrated interest in the care and treatment of individuals with behavioral health or developmental disabilities)
Current volunteers can update contact information and availability by completing the following form. A PDF version of the Member Handbook is also available below.
SDMC Volunteer Panel Member Information Update Sheet
Step 1: Becoming a volunteer
All volunteers are required to complete steps one through four of the volunteer training process on this page. To begin the process, please watch this video:
After viewing the video, complete the Volunteer Panel Member Application, then move on to step two. The SDMC Volunteer Training Coordinator will contact you when we receive the application.
Step 2: Mandatory Volunteer Training
Please view the seven required training videos below in order. The videos will assist you in developing the background and knowledge of the SDMC hearing process and your roles as a volunteer panel member. It is recommended that you complete them within one week for the most productive and comprehensive learning experience.
- #1: SDMC History and Overview - 23 Minutes
- #2: Capacity, Legally Authorized Surrogate & Best Interest - 26 Minutes
- #3: Deliberation & Voting Procedures - 8 Minutes
- #4: Hearing Preparation & at the Hearing - 11 Minutes
- #5: Objections and Hearing Issues - 10 Minutes
- #6: HIV & HIPAA Overview - 5 Minutes
- #7: Mock Hearing - 13 Minutes
Step 3: Guidance Documents
The guidance documents and reference materials below will enhance your understanding of some of the duties and responsibilities of a panel member.
Sample Panel Questions for Capacity, Surrogacy and Best Interest: Non-Emergency Major Medical Treatment
Guidance for SDMC panel members on Non-Emergency Major Medical Treatment decisions.
Step 4: Completing the Training Process
If you meet the requirements to become an SDMC volunteer panel member, have completed the training modules above, and have reviewed the guidance documents, please download and complete the New Volunteer Post-Training Packet. The Packet consists of a New Panel Information Form, Attestation of Completion of Training, and the Public Officer Oath/Affirmation. The Oath must be notarized and signed in two places.
Pursuant to Public Officers Law § 78, SDMC volunteers are considered public officers and are required to sign the Public Officer Oath/Affirmation and the Public Officers Law § 78 Certificate. The Public Officers Law §78 Certificate indicates an acknowledgement of receipt/reading of the applicable Public Officers Law sections: 73 Business or Professional Activities by State Officers, 73-a Financial Disclosure, 74 Code of Ethics, 75 Bribery of Members of the Legislature, 76 Receiving Bribes by Members of Legislature, and 77 Unlawful Fees and Payments.