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

Wilson, Annabelle M., Delbridge, Robyn, Palermo, Claire
Nutrition & dietetics 2017 v.74 no.5 pp. 488-494
dietitians, interviews, labor force, mentoring, models, professional development
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.