How to create a professional nursing portfolio

As a nursing student in nursing school or a registered nurse, aside from the traditional resume, it is crucial that you have a well-developed portfolio that demonstrates your professional development and successes to potential future employers.

What is a Nursing Portfolio

A nursing portfolio can be described as an up to date record that brings together documents that show your professional accomplishments, goals, competencies as well as professional skills. It also offers a great visual representation of your progress from one accomplishment to the next

A portfolio can either be a hard copy whereby all your documents are organized in a binder or a digital format that contains all your necessary electronic files

why do you need a nursing portfolio

While having a resume / CV is great to show a brief summary of your educational journey, a nursing portfolio takes your credibility a step further. It highlights other pertinent professional activities that are most likely to be left out in the ordinary CV. Here are some of the reasons why the portfolio is important.

  • As you hunt for a new job, your nursing portfolio is a great way to demonstrate to your future employers your accomplishment and achievements in a way that a traditional resume would otherwise not allow you to do. Rather than telling, you are showing with examples as you provide proof of what you have been able to accomplish in your professional growth
  • Apart from your portfolio being a great tool used to demonstrate professional development, it is also a great way to organize and keep track of all your important documents and files in one location.
  • A portfolio is also important for self-evaluation. This means that you are able to get a detailed look at your education progression as well as career advancement and decide on what contents you should include and what you should leave out should you decide to

contents to include in your professional portfolio

Deciding what to put into your nursing portfolio can be hard. So ask yourself this question, What are some of the achievements and abilities in my career and education can I use to demonstrate my competencies in the nursing field? Here are some of the important content that should make it to your portfolio

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • cover letter
  • Resume/ curriculum vitae
  • Name, address and contact information
  • Health records which include immunization and a thorough physical exam as supporting documents
  • School transcripts and degrees
  • Certification cards and their dates of renewal. The certification can be in, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Basic life support (BLS)
  • Specialty certification
  • A short essay of what your personal philosophy and values are in the nursing profession
  • Volunteer positions backed with supporting documentation
  • Professional organizations and committees you are a member of and the work that you have contributed to.
  • Job description. These are the roles and responsibilities that you have taken throughout your nursing career or employment history
  • Copy of your nursing license.
  • Copy of all certificates awarded in training
  • Samples of academic or professional work such as articles you have written and research you have conducted
  • Performance evaluation and a list of professional goals
  • Ongoing professional development.
  • Professional achievements and awards you have received for example proof of grant awards.
  • Key competencies
  • Conferences you have attended
  • In-service training backed with supporting documents
  • Peer as well as manager evaluations
  • Educational projects you have undertaken in-service.
  • Presentations letters of recommendation and appreciation
  • References. 

how to organize your professional nursing portfolio

There is no right or wrong way for you to organize your portfolio.

However, for your portfolio to be easy to follow and read through, you should take time and organize it in a chronological order that is, in order of how the progression of your career as a nurse took place. As such, it is a good idea to start with the resume.

Keep in mind that your professional nursing portfolio should act as a visual representation of your professional experience so organize it neatly.

For the hard copy portfolio, use the three-ring binder to arrange all your work systematically.

Additional tips for creating an outstanding nursing portfolio

Everyone in your field is making a portfolio so what are some of the things that you can add to make yours stand out? Consider these tips

  • Anything that makes you unique. Do you have personal thank you notes from your patients? Add them. What about pictures of you and your patients? Add that too. The idea is to personalize your portfolio and make it unique to your nursing professional development
  • Because your professional portfolio is an important collection of all your important documents, it is crucial that you invest in page protectors. These come in handy for keeping all your documents safe. So each time you make a great milestone in your career or you have earned another certificate, add it to the collection.

What not to do

In as much as you might be tempted to make your nursing portfolio as colourful as possible, remember that this is not a scrapbook. This is your professional portfolio and you should treat it as such. You should therefore not add anything that does not build your skills or professional image as a nurse. As such, avoid decorative pages or colours.

What copy of the professional portfolio should I have?

It is always a good idea to have both the electronic copy and the hard copy versions of your professional nursing portfolio at all times. The electronic version is easily portable and you can easily retrieve it from any electronic device when needed.

A physical copy of your professional portfolio is also very important especially when you are attending an interview. It makes the work of your interviewer easy as they go through your journey as a nurse and accomplishments.

when should I start creating my professional portfolio?

It is never too early to start putting your portfolio together. In fact the earlier the better. For nursing students, you can start taking note of your progress and achievements and start putting them together as part of your portfolio while still in the university

It is never a good idea to wait until the last minute when you are called upon for an interview to start gathering your documents. You will not have enough time to organize your content well. So make enough time and keep updating your portfolio constantly to keep up with the changes you are making in your career.

As you can see, a nursing portfolio is a very key element in your career planning. It is a great way to present evidence of all your clinical competence and achievements throughout your journey.

Since change is part of the journey, and the nature of your job and skills is constantly changing, so should your portfolio. Make all the necessary additions while keeping in mind all the lessons from this article. A complete portfolio is a great way to keep tabs on what you are doing and the route you plan to take for your future.

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