I've just logged back on after all the business of Christmas and new year. Naturally the really exciting thing for us in Queensland has been the formation of our very own branch of ANTS.Â
I am hoping that my communities of practice colleagues will enthusiastically join!Â
In the beginning..... I'm told that that's how all good stories start...
- In order to get going I contacted my immediate hospital colleagues (other Nurse Educators) and asked them directly how they would feel about getting together once a month for lunch off campus and a chat. I found this easy as I have exisiting working relationships with them. I talked to them about the Communities of Practice idea.
- I emailed to them a short explanation of what constituted a communities of practice and the fluid nature of the concept and added the links to Wegners internet site. Â The thought of no agendas and no minutes but outcomes lured them in I think.
- I coordinated a time and location and sent out the invitation via e-mail.Â I made sure that as time drew near that I reminded them of the get together. I chose a small cafe within walking distance of the hospital that had free car parking. The food was a second thought, the anonimity of the venue was more important.
- I volunteered to "pick them up" on the way to the venue and dropped by their offices as I went and asked them if they were ready.
- I had in my mind a loose order for the discussion with the initial group and went over the concept of Communities of Practice (Cof p) with them. If the chatting had not started I had a back-up document to get the discussion going.
- I have found that whilst mature Cof P are supposed to manage collectively topics and activities, a burgeoning one needs some direction.Â I feel that it is really important to have something to discuss that can result in a positive outcome for the group for each get together. If no one suggests anything you suggest something.
This month (January) we are creating feedback on the National Registration Documents. It is important to send out any documents for feedback well before the CofPÂ so that people have a chance to look at them. February can be the ANTS Competency Standards!
I have found that there is always something that is buzzing around that needs discussing and some type of response. The development of joint training for staff is a great outcome. We had a 'drop out' group meet to develop a joint program for acute hospital staff which will run as a pilot in March.
Inspite of all that however it is okey to have lunch and general chatter, It's amazing what develops as future topics for discussion.
Don't be disheartened if only 2 of you turn up. Don't be tempted to cancel or postpone. Meet, greet and complete something and share the outcome with all those you had invited but did not attend. I have created a group e-mail which gets added to as people come along. Encourage people to invite others along. That's how our group has grown to include our university colleagues.
One thing I did was to inform my Director of Nursing that we were experimenting with the C of P and that we would be "off the radar" but that I would touch base with her every now and then about the group. She was excited about the idea and immediately saw the benifits of the group for the facility.
- Remember that not all groups will be homogenous and that people with drift in and drift out. Personalities are personalities and sometimes you just need to give people space.
- Â I found that I am having to be the driver of the group forÂ longer than I expected. You need to keep up your own enthusiasm.
- Calendaring can be a big challenge. Best to set up some dates and times so that people can put them in their diaries for the year ahead of time.
- It can be a challenge when providing feedback toÂ organisations what to call yourselves. Everyone seems to need a formal label of some sort these days. I agonised for a while and asked the group who decided toÂ just call themselves the ToowoombaÂ Nurse Educators Communities of Practice Group.Â
- Some organisations may not be as accepting as ours for "under the radar" groups. You will need to discuss how best to approach this as a group.
So there you have it. I think on my first posting I put in some links and a reference text for Communities of Practice as well.