Integrating a Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) into graduate psychiatric nursing curriculum

Jillian M. Jevack, Kathleen R. Tusaie, Jeffrey S. Jones, Patricia J. Purcell, Marlene S. Huff


Introduction: The 2003 Institute of Medicine report, Health Profession Education: A Bridge to Quality, establishes the need for increased informatics literacy in all health care disciplines. The focus upon computerized health care records, data management, e-prescribing, and telehealth exists, but minimal literature is available addressing the use of Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP) in education. The theory of connectivism provides the framework for this project, focusing on student autonomy, connectedness, diversity, and openness.

Method: A pilot to explore feasibility and initial impressions of the inclusion of a VCoP into the last 2 semesters of a graduate Psychiatric Nursing curriculum was conducted. Development of the assignment including creation of a self-
directed online tutorial and grading rubric was completed. Initial evaluation of feasibility as well as reactions was assessed using student grades on the rubric, impressions of faculty, and themes from a student focus group. The purpose of involvement in a VCoP provides professional interaction and incentive toward developing a scholarly paper.

Results: Initial reaction was overall negative; however, as length of time participating in the VCoP expanded, students became more proficient and reactions trended more positive with all students predicting they would continue to participate in the VCoP after graduation. Students also recommended the continued use of the VCoP for future students.

Conclusion: The use of a Virtual Community of Practice as part of a graduate Psychiatric Nursing Curriculum is feasible and can be implemented in future classes. Modification of the grading rubric is indicated. Longitudinal follow up will continue to provide information regarding use after graduation. Further research is needed to evaluate effects of participation in a VCoP.


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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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