MANUSCRIPT: General practice training and virtual communities of practice – a review of the literature
Good General Practice is essential for an effective health system. Good General Practice training is essential to sustain the workforce, however training for General Practice can be hampered by a number of pressures, including professional, structural and social isolation. General Practice trainees may be under more pressure than fully registered General Practitioners, and yet isolation can lead doctors to reduce hours and move away from rural practice. Virtual communities of practice (VCoPs) in business have been shown to be effective in improving knowledge sharing, thus reducing professional and structural isolation. This literature review will critically examine the current evidence relevant to virtual communities of practice in General Practice training, identify evidence-based principles that might guide their construction and suggest further avenues for research.
Major online databases Scopus, Psychlit and Pubmed were searched for the terms “Community of Practice” (CoP) AND (Online OR Virtual OR Electronic) AND (health OR healthcare OR medicine OR “Allied Health”). Only peer-reviewed journal articles in English were selected. A total of 76 articles were identified, with 23 meeting the inclusion criteria. There were no studies on CoP or VCoP in General Practice training. The review was structured using a framework of six themes for establishing communities of practice, derived from a key study from the business literature. This framework has been used to analyse the literature to determine whether similar themes are present in the health literature and to identify evidence in support of virtual communities of practice for General Practice training.