Supporting dietitians to work in Aboriginal health: Qualitative evaluation of a Community of Practice mentoring circle

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Abstract

Aim

This paper explores the experience of dietitians participating in a Community of Practice designed to support their work with Aboriginal communities.

Methods

The Community of Practice for dietitians working with Aboriginal communities ran for 12 months, starting in May 2014. Six-weekly mentoring sessions were held using Skype, with conversation aided by a facilitator. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were held with all participants at the conclusion of the Community of Practice. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Thirteen dietitians participated in the Community of Practice and an in-depth, semi-structured interview. Four key themes were identified: (i) Aboriginal health practice requires a different way of ‘knowing’, ‘being’ and ‘working’; (ii) Community of Practice is a safe place to discuss, debrief and explore ideas that are not safe elsewhere; (iii) participation in Community of Practice contributed to workforce retention in the Aboriginal health sector; and (iv) participation in Community of Practice contributed to dietitians changing their practice and feeling confident to do so.

Conclusions

By increasing confidence and opportunities for safe discussion, Community of Practice appears to be a useful model of Continuing Professional Development to support dietitians working in Aboriginal health.

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