I was able to present an instance of FMS Journal Club in February 2021, and chose to present the paper Medicine as a Community of Practice: Implications for Medical Education (Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018).
“Communities of practice can guide the development of interventions to make medical education more effective and can help both learners and educators better cope with medical education’s complexity.”Cruess, Cruess and Steinert, 2018
The paper suggests the framework of the Community of Practice (CoP) for activities in medical education, specifically, cultivating a sense of belonging and professional identity associated with that community.
The authors put forward a long list of recommendations as to how CoPs as a framework can be embedded. The area I was most interested in was that of helping people to join these communities, particularly in relation to forming professional identity.
One of the key elements is that of regular meaningful interactions. This goes beyond simple matters of curriculum, but also incorporates something of a pastoral side. As well as bolstering students’ confidence in their skills, these interactions help students to form their identities as aspiring professional practitioners.
While video conferencing software offers a fairly rich interactive experience, there are many non-synchronous tools that provide arenas for interaction as well. The tool chosen is not the most important part – the important part is the regular, high-quality authentic interactions that can be facilitated between students and others with more experienced positions within their communities of practice.
What does this look like in practice?
- Explicit acknowledgement of the difficulties faced when building a professional identity
- Regular engagement with online discussions / Q+A / chat rooms
- Unstructured / less structured time for students and teachers to talk less formally
- Engagement with formal mentoring processes
- Encouragement for students to form supportive relationships with one another
Communities of Practice overview from original authors
Journal Club (Newcastle University login required)
Liaison Librarian team Case Study previous blog post on CoPs
Upcoming seminar for staff: Humanising the Online Experience
Building Community – Case study concerning connecting PhD students with one another and staying on track.