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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shaping practice : clinician's experiences in a community of practice Mendel, Donna L


Large regional health authorities are challenged to find effective ways to increase interprofessional and intra-regional collaboration so that expertise and knowledge can be shared, enhanced, disseminated and more effectively translated into practice. Communities of practice (CoPs) have been introduced into healthcare over the last few years as a strategy to improve knowledge translation and organizational performance. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore healthcare clinicians' experiences of being a member of a clinically-focused CoP. Semi-structured interviews with 15 CoP members were conducted and transcribed. Thematic analysis revealed participants constructed CoP in four main ways: as a learning community, a means to cope with organizational life, a mechanism to get organizational work done and as an elite group. Important participant experiences in CoPs included: supporting one another, staying on top of things, and helping each other. Although participants talked very positively about their experiences in CoPs there were also challenges and frustrations. There were two main outcomes of membership in a CoP. First the CoPs were perceived to provide an opportunity to develop a sense of belonging. Secondly, CoPs enabled changes in practice. Practice changes ranged from individuals thinking about and enacting practice differently to organization-wide changes in practice standards. Information from the perspectives of the community members about their experiences in clinically-focused CoP can be used by administrators for future planning, resourcing and providing support to CoPs. These findings extend our understanding of the implications of this important and relatively new social structure in healthcare.

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Attribution 3.0 Unported