Becoming an Interprofessional Community of Practice: A Qualitative Study of an Interprofessional Fellowship

Susan E. Sterrett


Background: The social learning model, Communities of Practice (CoP), serves as an organizing framework for this study of interprofessional learning. The author, a nurse, completed the study while a doctoral student in a school of education. The objective of the study was to understand the phenomenon of participation in interprofessional learning experiences among a group of graduate students, faculty, and administrators, and the extent to which the markers of the communities of practice model were present in those experiences.
Methods and Findings: This qualitative study used principles of constructivist grounded theory methodology. The objective was to seek out participants’ expressed experience as data to guide theory development. The participants were graduate students, faculty, and administrators from an interprofessional fellowship in developmental disabilities. Processes of building community and making meaning of the experience were themes that related to the Wenger CoP model. Feeling respected was a theme that was identified in this study and that is not found in the CoP model.
Conclusions: The findings indicated that participants were able to form an interprofessional community of practice based on the markers of Wenger’s model. This initial study moves toward the development of an organizing theory of an effective interprofessional community of practice (EICoP).



Interprofessional education; Communities of practice; Social learning theory; Collaboration

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