A study was undertaken with nurse practitioners (NPs) in 2008–2009 to examine post-legislation role development in British Columbia. The authors used a participatory action research approach to engage NPs in social investigation, education and action, and to explore, from the participants' perspective, how collaboration advances NP role integration in primary healthcare. A particular discovery of the study was the Interior Health Authority Community of Practice (CoP) established in collaboration with health leaders and NPs. The purpose of this paper is to report on the CoP and the five characteristics describing this collaborative CoP model, including sanctioned social structure, knowledge exchange network, practice discovery and innovation, generating meaning and value, and power sharing for strategic improvement. The CoP helped NPs to build collegial and collaborative relationships, enhance practice learning and competence, extend and apply new knowledge, enrich professional identities, and shape health organizational policy and politics. Because healthcare research about CoPs is limited, principles of a collaborative CoP model are offered for broader healthcare use. The authors conclude that a collaborative CoP model addresses the internal interests and needs of participating members while attending to the external concerns of the organization, and thus contributes to healthcare improvement.
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