A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a concern, a set of challenges, or a passion about a topic. They deepen their knowledge and expertise by regularly interacting to create, share, and use knowledge. A CoP connects people to solutions, celebrates and spreads good practices, and spurs innovation. Those who are new to a field can learn from their more experienced peers and bring fresh ideas and perspectives.
There are three types of communities of practice.
These are not discrete categories. A community of practice may overlap two or even all three of these, or may shift between types.
Link people for information exchange and learning
Help people share ideas, goals, and strategies
Enable members to work together for change
How is a community of practice different from a learning collaborative?
Communities of Practice…
- Often continue indefinitely
- Have a flexible, fluid membership
- Address challenges as they arise
- Build knowledge through sharing and collective problem-solving
- Are time-limited (typically 6-15 months)
- Have a defined group of participants
- Have specific, measurable goals
- Build knowledge through teaching, practice, and sharing
Both are “all teach, all learn” approaches to practice-based learning!
Alliance & Partner Communities of Practice
PS Suite EMR Users Community of Practice
Most Alliance member organizations use a common Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System – TELUS PS Suite. This community of practice, supported by Alliance staff, brings together PS Suite users from across our membership at multiple levels: data management coordinators (DMCs), managers, and health care providers.
JReport is a solution that works with an organization’s EMR system to allow access to large datasets and generate reports and visualizations. This community of practice, supported by Alliance staff, primarily supports Data Management Coordinators who work in Alliance organizations.
Data Management Coordinators Regional User Groups
DMCs across Ontario have formed regional user groups (RUGS) to provide mutual support, engage in collaborative solution-finding, and share their learnings and insights. The RUGS are primary led and managed by users.
National Safer Supply Community of Practice
In 2019, primary healthcare providers in Canada began prescribing opioids to people who live with opioid use disorder, as part of their response to the escalating crisis of opioid poisonings due to toxic street supply. Safer supply programs have since grown and spread across the country and are increasingly recognized as an important component of the crisis response.
In the fall of 2020, a community of practice for safer supply was formed in Ontario. In recognition of the need to scale up safer supply programs, Health Canada awarded $1 million to London InterCommunity Health Centre to scale up this community of practice to the national level, in partnership with the Alliance for Healthy Communities and the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. The new, National Safer Supply Community of Practice (NSS-CoP) was launched in September 2021. It facilitates member meetings (drop-in sessions, working groups), a members’ discussion forum, and public ‘hot topic’ meetings and events. The CoP’s website is becoming a knowledge and resource hub for safer supply practice and advocacy.
To learn more about the NSS-CoP and how to join, email SaferSupplyON@gmail.com.
COVID-19 Vaccine Community of Practice
With the goal of working towards more equitable post-pandemic health outcomes, the Alliance for Healthier Communities received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s Immunization Partnership Fund (IPF) to implement the Community Vaccination Promotion – Ontario (CVP-ON) project. This 18-month funding, from April 2021 to September 2022, recognizes the deep experience of Alliance members in supporting and working alongside marginalized individuals and groups, as well as their strong relationships of trust in local communities and their extensive work to date in responding to the pandemic. CVP-ON is part of a cross-Canada partnership with other national and provincial associations to promote vaccine trust, confidence, and uptake.
Social Prescribing Community of Practice
Social prescribing is a practice dedicated to building up communities and fostering connections between like-minded people. In much the same way, the people who implement social prescribing initiatives, advocate for the social prescribing movement, or just want to deepen their understanding of social prescribing need a space to convene and learn from each other. With this need in mind, the Alliance is developing two communities of practice to bring people together on national and provincial levels.
Both launched in fall 2021, the Canadian Social Prescribing CoP and the Ontario Social Prescribing CoP have begun to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations, share resources and knowledge, and build social connections across sectors to raise awareness about social prescribing. To learn more social prescribing and how to join our CoPs, see our registration page here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.