Table 2

Comparison of key elements between CoPs in healthcare and CoPs in other industries

ElementCoPHealthcare CoP
Intended purposeSharing knowledge
Improving organisational performance
Fostering innovation
Sharing knowledge
Improving clinical practice
Enhancing humanism of and healthcare quality
Improving Knowledge Translation
Addressing ethical issues and human suffering (proposed)
OutcomesPerformance and profits
Find competitive advantage
Development of local guidelines and policies
Improved adherence to evidence-based policies
Quality improvement to better standards of care
Enhanced collective moral resilience (proposed)
Shared learning need
Healthcare professionals committed to providing humanistic and quality care and improving well-being for patients and practitioners
Method of collective learning over time
Activities and discussions to share informationActivities and discussions to share information
Dialogue to reflect and deepen understanding of (shared) experiences
Resources provided by interactions over time
Joint enterprise—improving performance
Mutual engagement—understanding for other professions or industries
Shared repertoire—industry dependent, but often includes technological solutions
Practical wisdom (proposed)—improving the ability to see which course of action is best supported by reasons
Joint enterprise—improving patient care, cultivating self-awareness and resilience
Mutual engagement—opportunity to address healthcare system and culture
Shared repertoire—often limited resources, excessive demands, patient-centred care.
Practical wisdom (proposed)-activating capacities of the self (professional), other (patient and/or carers and colleagues) and the problem in itself
  • A CoP is organised around a ‘practice’. Traditionally, three characteristics or qualities define a ‘practice’, and we propose a fourth characteristic of a practice:

    1. Joint enterprise.The members of a CoP are there to accomplish something on an ongoing basis; they have some kind of work in common and they see clearly the larger purpose of that work. They have a ‘mission’. In the simplest of terms, they are ‘up to something’.

    2. Mutual engagement.The members of a CoP interact with one another not just in the course of doing their work but to clarify that work, to define how it is done and even to change how it is done. Through this mutual engagement, members also establish their identities at work.

    3. Shared repertoire.The members of a CoP have not just work in common but also methods, tools, techniques and even language, stories and behaviour patterns. There is a cultural context for the work.

    4. Practical wisdom (proposed). The members of a CoP share a practical wisdom which combines different professional experiences, as well as the reflection about them. The practical wisdom is not included in the professional training, neither in the student’s curricula. Only emerges with the experience in the profession.

  • CoP, communities of practice.