Professional Co-Development in Health – It’s a Winner!

Have you ever heard about professional co-development? This process, developed in Quebec at the end of the 1990’s, sets theory aside and builds on the knowledge acquired in the field for developing professional skills. Here’s how it’s done.

A group of four to eight people meets every five or six weeks over at least one year. With the help of a facilitator, participants find solutions together to practical problems that they experience every day in their workplace.

According to Katherine Ouellet, co-chair of the Quebec Association of Professional Co-Development, beneficiary attendants and nurses would benefit from this approach to resolve the problem of health care work overload. “They would find much more powerful solutions than any government,” she believes.

First step: find a facilitator

The group facilitator can come from within the organization, but needs training to implement the process, Katherine Ouellet says, who has been practicing the method for 20 years.

To create conditions favourable for success, Ms. Ouellet believes that the facilitators benefit from being supported by external consultants who specialize in professional co-development for the first year.

Second step: begin having meetings

Once the facilitator has been found, the participants are brought together. They can come from several different health care facilities, but they must be at the same hierarchical level and perform roughly the same functions.

So mixing beneficiary attendants with executives may be detrimental to the process, since the participants will not feel at ease to talk about their experiences, Ms. Ouellet explains.  

“The idea is to break down isolation as well as to resolve problems,” she continues. During the meetings, participants will have to set out a problem, then agree on an action plan based on an actual case.

Third step: developing your skills

After one year, the co-development group may or may not decide to renew the process, depending on the objectives set out at the beginning. And most groups decide to continue the process.

It’s not just that it is inexpensive, Ms. Ouellet explains, but it has been proven for development of so-called “soft” skills (that arise from self-knowledge), such as listening, communication and interpersonal relations.

But each member of the group needs to contribute by taking the time to share skills and experiences…

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