About Communities of Practice


Communities of Practice – A Knowledge Translation Model

By Professor Patty Laverdure

In her Presidential Address at the 2017 Annual AOTA Conference and Expo, AOTA President Amy Lamb called upon the membership to build collaborative communities of learning to examine our science, strengthen our knowledge and skills, and advance our practice. “Occupation Circles” have the power, she suggested, to transform both our experience as practitioners and our profession. Drawing on Dr. Lamb’s passion for advocacy along with the body of literature on knowledge translation, two collaborative Communities of Practice (CoP) are underway.

A Community of Practice (COP) is a collaborative and social learning community formed by groups of people who share a common interest or passion. COPs aim to build, expand, and share collective knowledge and resources to develop members’ skills and advance practice (Snyder, Wenger, & de Sousa Briggs, 2004; Wenger, 2000). Practitioners, academicians and researchers have joined forces to address the complexity of service delivery and expand knowledge, skills and leadership in accessing, analyzing and translating evidence in school practice (EBP) and in examining the contributions of occupational therapists in meeting the mental health needs of children in school settings (SMH).

The EBP CoP is a new collaborative effort of Patty Laverdure, Assistant Professor at VCU, Michelle Thompson, Occupational Therapist, Richmond Public Schools, and Cheryl Pinkleton, OT/PT Specialist, Chesterfield County Public Schools. Following a training in June, the CoP leaders are facilitating a learning community of school practitioners from their and other regional school divisions to build competency and leadership in a robust and interdisciplinary implementation of evidence-based practice and knowledge translation. Together, as a practice community, we are examining ways to strengthen our understanding of EBP concepts and methods. We hope to access, translate and develop resources to strengthen practice, while engaging in dialog that will facilitate a research agenda to inform client centered, occupationally focused and contextually based occupational therapy practice in school settings.

The SMH CoP, is spearheaded by Patty Laverdure, Assistant Professor at VCU, Pam Stephenson, Assistant Professor, Mary Baldwin University, and Kristin Eddy, OT/PT Specialist, Fairfax County Public Schools. With the support of Dr. Sue Bazyk, Professor, Cleveland State University, the SMH CoP leaders are working with school practitioners from eight school divisions across the Commonwealth to address the mental health needs of students using public health and Multi-tiered System of Supports approaches. Using Dr. Bazyk’s text, the group is building capacity of occupational therapy practitioners to serve as practice leaders in school mental health for the state.

For more information on CoPs or for assistance in developing a CoP in your own practice setting contact Patty at PLaverdure@vcu.edu.

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