Sense of belonging is conceptualized as “…the experience of personal involvement in a system or environment so that persons feel themselves to be an integral part of that system or environment” (Hagerty et al. 1992). Within this frame, belongingness is an internal affective feeling or perception – a “sense” (of belonging). Moreover, scholars suggest that there are two defining elements to sense of belonging: a.) Valued Involvement – or the experience of feeling valued, needed, and accepted (stems from relationships and social connectedness within system/organization), and b.) “Fit” – or the perception that the individual’s characteristics articulate with the system/organization (stems from “match” between organizational identity/values and personal identity/values. Yet, there is minimal research as to how these elements are cultivated, triggered, internalized, and sustained within a system. Although it is fairly clear there are individual (micro) and organizational (meso), as well as socio-cultural (macro) factors at play, how these factors interact, their catalysts and hinderances remain relatively unknown. Finally, although sense of belonging is clearly a key ingredient for building cohesive and connected teams, minimal attention has been paid to sense of belonging in the interprofessional education and practice realms.
In this presentation, we discuss the tenets of sense of belonging, how it relates to promoting interprofessionalism among students and practitioners, and provide ways in which individuals can develop sense of belonging among their community and team-members within their own organizations.