Written Written communication: communication: from from staff staff nurse nurse to to nurse nurse consultant consultant

Part 10: portfolios John Fowler


articles I’ve written and other routine work related to nursing, either paid or voluntary The third drawer has notes and written work I have produced while on a course of study. It also contains occasional reflections on any clinical work I’ve undertaken. The last drawer is a collection of acknowledgments and evaluations from either students, managers or clients. Those of you that have met me will realise that I am being a little creative with the truth in my filing cabinet example; in practice all that information is contained in my office, right enough, but some bits are pushed under the desk, others are in a cupboard and some is in a pile on the floor awaiting a day of tidying! However, the filing cabinet analogy is a useful one in that a portfolio is a collection of evidence of your experience, your ability and also of what other people think about you and your work. If your evidence is organised and filed within drawers, then it is a relatively simple exercise to take out two or three files from each drawer to provide appropriate evidence for specific occasions. You might put together one collection for your NMC revalidation, a different set if applying for a manager’s job, a different set if applying for a clinical specialist’s job and another collection if you were trying to claim an exemption from a module of study in a Masters degree. There is no one style of writing that should be used for all the material you keep in your ‘portfolio filing cabinet’. There may be certain files from university study that you have written in a traditional academic format along with practice-based reflections composed in a more narrative way. You may include a policy document that you have helped write with an attached letter from the chair of the policy group thanking you for your work.You may also include photographs of an event that you organised. The one element underpinning all the content of your portfolio is that of ‘evidence’; how

you construct that evidence will vary. It is becoming easier to keep portfolio evidence electronically, although that has its obvious dangers and limitations and I still like to keep paper copies of originals for my own portfolio. Although I have presented the idea of a portfolio in quite an objective and logical way that serves a purpose for revalidation, employment and professional development, it has the potential to be far richer in its significance for you as a person and your own self-awareness and fulfilment. The actual process of keeping and then reflecting on your achievements can be a very powerful motivating force in terms of your future development and self-confidence. I would encourage you not to keep all your evidence and achievements in random cardboard boxes in the loft. Instead, try to organise it, keep an ongoing record of achievements and take time to reflect on what your strengths BJN are and where you want to go. Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008) The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. (accessed 15 January 2015) Nursing and Midwifery Council (2014a) Revalidation. (accessed 15 January 2015) Nursing and Midwifery Council (2014b) Revalidation Glossary. (accessed 15 January 2015)

Dr John Fowler is a general and mental health nurse. He has worked as an Educational Consultant to primary care trusts and as a Principal Lecturer in Nursing for many years. He has published widely on educational and professional topics and is series editor of the Fundamental Aspects of Nursing Series and the Nurse Survival Guide Series for Quay Books

© 2015 MA Healthcare Ltd


his is the tenth article in the ‘staff nurse to nurse consultant’ series discussing the use of written communication by clinically based nurses in a variety of scenarios. This article discusses the writing involved in a portfolio. Part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revalidation requirements is that all nurses maintain a portfolio of their experience and continuing professional development—evidence of your fitness to practise may be requested at times of revalidation. The revalidation policy is currently being updated by the NMC (2014a) and the proposed guidance will ask nurses to declare that they have: ■■ Met the requirements for practice hours and continuing professional development ■■ Reflected on their practice, based on the requirements of the Code (NMC, 2008), using feedback from service users, patients, relatives, colleagues and others ■■ Received confirmation from a third party. This expanded use of ‘evidence’ for revalidation is summarised by the NMC’s definition of the term ‘portfolio’ as: ‘documented evidence of learning activities and feedback on nurse or midwife’s practice’ (NMC, 2014b). The NMC will produce definitive guidance on revalidation in 2015, but the general principles of the portfolio and the type of evidence are unlikely to change. However, the use of a portfolio is not restricted to the NMC definition, and your portfolio can include a number of other equally important aspects of professional development. For example, my portfolio is contained in a filing cabinet in my office at home. In the top drawer I keep a record of various contracts or conditions of employment I have had for the last few years, formal observations of my work, an up-to-date CV and any other similar paperwork. The second drawer contains a collection of lecture notes, research studies I’ve undertaken,

British Journal of Nursing, 2015, Vol 24, No 2

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Written communication: from staff nurse to nurse consultant.

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