CoPs provide an environment in which professionals can share their practice experiences, develop and discuss areas of interests and build a sense of community (2).
A community of practice was a term first coined by Etienne Wenger, an education practitioner and academic, who described CoP as “Groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better”. The successful CoP requires members to be participatory and is essentially led by its members. It is the member’s responsibility to ensure that the CoP stays relevant, engaging and offers value to the domain of interest (3).
CoPs were initially developed to exchange information and knowledge but more recently are being used as tools to improve clinical and public health practice and to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based practice (2).
In the healthcare field, CoPs have been promoted as a tool to (4):
- Cross knowledge boundaries (all healthcare workforce)
- Generate and manage a body of knowledge for members to draw on (palliative care)
- Promote standardisation of practice (evidenced based palliative care)
- Innovate and create new ideas, knowledge and practices
In developing a CoP, Wegner and colleagues identified three key elements to be included (5,6):
- Community – to enable interactions, discussions, collaborative activities and relationship building (PEPA Community)
- Shared domain of interest – a shared purpose or goal of the group (palliative care knowledge, skill and confidence)
- Shared practice i.e. repertoire of resources, techniques, tools, experiences, processes or practice (palliative care).
For more information about the PEPA CoP Terms of Reference (ToR) click the link at the top of this page
As a PEPA participant completes a placement activity their activity overview (PEPA Completion Form 3 – Workplace Activity Report) it will be written to form a Blog by the PEPA Manager in their state and territory and loaded to the PEPA Placement site for you to comment on later.
- Wenger E, McDermott R, Snyder W. Cultivating Communities of Practice: a Guide to Managing knowledge (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA). Amy HI Lee received the MBA degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in. 2002.
- CDC. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/phcommunities/resourcekit/intro/index.html
- Wenger E, McDermott R, Snyder WM. Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. 2002.
- Ranmuthugala G, Plumb JJ, Cunningham FC, Georgiou A, Westbrook JI, Braithwaite J. How and why are communities of practice established in the healthcare sector? A systematic review of the literature. BMC health services research. 2011;11(1):273.
- Wenger E. Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. Systems thinker. 1998;9(5):2‐3.
- Li LC, Grimshaw JM, Nielsen C, Judd M, Coyte PC, Graham ID. Evolution of Wenger’s concept of community of practice. Implementation Science. 2009;4(1):11.