Guidance for Producing Medical Portfolios

What is it and why have one?

A portfolio is a physical document, providing evidence of the professional and personal skills, knowledge and competencies that are covered by your CV. It documents the quality and scope of your experience and tracks your professional development and career planning over time. It is an organised collection of documentation that presents both your personal and professional achievements.

There has never been a more important time to keep a well presented and comprehensive portfolio of evidence which supports your career development. Throughout your professional career you will need to develop and present a portfolio of evidence to support the appraisal process and for the purpose of recruitment and selection to new opportunities. Many assessment centres use portfolios, alongside other tools, to assess your competencies and suitability for specialty training.

Your portfolio should be regularly updated and treated as a confidential document, representing your clinical practice and professional development and should be kept safe.

B. What should your portfolio say about you?

  • A determined and enthusiastic doctor, willing to continually learn and improve
  • A doctor who will go the extra mile to expand their knowledge and skills
  • Someone who takes their career planning and personal/professional development seriously
  • A professional who can reflect and learn from achievements and mistakes
  • A doctor who has achieved the key skills to be trained in the specialty of their choice
  • It should show a pride in achievements gained inside and outside of medicine
  • An individual who is skilled in organisation, planning and logical thinking.

Think carefully about the structure and content of your portfolio. Your assessors will often see your portfolio before they meet you, therefore, don’t present a disorganised, sloppy and slap dash portfolio. Remember – first impressions count!

C. Portfolio design and presentation

  • Your portfolio should be presented as a physical, not virtual, document. Do not cram it full of material; make it easy to turn pages and access content. Be selective with what you include, ensure that it is of a good quality and relevant.
  • The relevant information should be organised into a named ring binder or suitable equivalent – something that clearly displays and protects your evidence. Consider using plastic pockets, putting your pages back to back so that sheets do not need to be taken out to be viewed.
  • Make navigation simple; include a contents page at the front and ensure that you have clearly divided the various sections of your portfolio by using dividers that are wider than your A4 material. Be logical in your layout; consider the impression you will be giving about the way you potentially think and work.
  • Your CV should immediately follow the contents page at the front. Remember, assessors only have a very limited period of time to look at your portfolio and interview you and your CV will provide a quick summary for them. See leaflet CPIS/1 in this series

D. Types of evidence you may wish to include in your portfolio

  • Personal details
  • Contents page
  • CV
  • Certificates – degrees, CRB, completion of foundation competencies etc
  • Prizes
  • Audits and Quality Improvement Projects
  • Self-appraisal and personal development plan
  • Selected appraisal meetings / ARCPs
  • Assessments of competence. If you have large numbers of work based assessment forms that you can include them but it would be advisable to select those most relevant together with a list at the front summarising the assessments and types of cases done.
  • Reflective practice that show your ability to learn from experiences and that you are proactive in improving your knowledge skills and professional development
  • Teaching - with feedback
  • Presentations – with feedback
  • Feedback, thank you letters and emails of praise from your colleagues or patients
  • Research and publications
  • IT skills
  • Extra curricula activities, eg sporting achievements

E. Organisation

There is no definitive template which dictates how your portfolio should be organised but the overriding principles are that it should be up-to-date and easy to navigate. How you chose to organise your evidence depends largely on the purpose your portfolio is being used for and also your personal preference. If it is being used for recruitment it is very important to check the requirements of the LETB (Local Education Training Board) or Royal College to which you are applying. These will often be published a month or so before the recruitment rounds opens and will usually give you instruction on layout and order.

If there are no guidelines for you to follow, there are two suggested ways to organise your portfolio:

  • Using sections in the order they appear in your CV – see leaflet CPIS/1 in this series
  • Using the headings from the GMC Good medical practice guide which is the method often used for ARCP portfolios

Leaflets in this series

  1. Medical CVs – CPIS/1
  2. Medical Portfolios – CPIS/2
  3. Specialty Assessment Centres – CPIS/3
  4. Working Abroad – CPIS/4

Disclaimer

The advice and Information contained in this article is current and to the best of our knowledge. Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education (Health Education South West) cannot be held liable for any actions/decisions made as a result of this article and advise the reader to check the facts with the relevant body to their own satisfaction. We have no control over the content of any external links contained within this article.