I am writing an abstract for the conference "Breathing new life into maternity care". This conference is a multi-disciplinary conference held in 2010 in Alice Springs, Australia.
Team or community of practice?
One of the main aims of the conference is to bring midwives and obstetricians together to encourage more collaborative teamwork amongst the two professions. I was all set to write an abstract talking about how we can use online communication tools to work more effectively as a virtual team. But I have got side tracked into asking the question: should we be aiming to form virtual teams in maternity services or would it be more appropriate to think in terms of communities of practice? What is the difference? What will work better?
Working in teams
I have to be honest and admit to some suspicion when I hear the call for 'teamwork'. I welcome inter-professional collaboration but my idea of teamwork sometimes differs from that of other health professionals. I'm all for teamwork but in a team where I am an equal partner, bringing my own strengths and perspectives that are valued along with every other member of the team.
Developing communities of practice
So maybe we should be focusing on developing communities of practice as opposed to teams. I see communities of practice being less hierarchical than teams and more inclusive...where members work together to support, mentor and develop each other....and where consumers (and their families) can join and contribute.
What do you think - is there a difference between teams and communities of practice, or is it just a matter of semantics?
Image: '3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept'