Professional portfolios arean essential resource for nurses to record their developing skills andknowledge as they progress in their career, and are equally vital for staffnurses.
The key to compiling a strong portfolio is knowing what constitutesmeaningful evidence of their achievements, and how to structure one to bestrepresent their professional and personal development. This applies equallywhether the portfolio is being used to record career development or learning onan academic course. The portfolio needs to reflect the nurse’s approach topatients, their growing skills in meeting patients’ needs, the rationale fortheir care, and how they work alongside other healthcare professionals andagencies.
Regardless of the reason forproducing a portfolio, the principles and processes are similar. Scholes et al(2004) define a portfolio as something that: “captures learning fromexperience, enables an assessor to measure student learning, acts as a tool forreflective thinking, illustrates critical analysis skills and evidence of selfdirected learning and provides a collection of detailed evidence of a person’scompetence.”This definition can equallyapply to portfolios used to reflect professional development and staff jobperformance. Coffey (2005) suggests the collated evidence provides a “series ofsnapshots” over time, which represent an individual’s experiences and learningfrom and about practice.
Judith, (name changed) asecond year adult branch student, recently wrote in her learning log that forher: “A portfolio tells a story … of what I have experienced and learnt aboutmyself … about the needs and experiences of clients and their families … aboutmy approach to clients and their families, about how I work” (Clark, 2009).A portfolio is therefore notjust a description of care activities. It needs to demonstrate learning from arange of care experiences. This is not always obvious, and can be missed whengiving everyday care. Also, some learning occurs at a subconscious level – frombeing socialised into the nursing role and through role modelling professionalcolleagues’ practice.
Competence has been definedin many ways. A commonly used formula identifies the attitudes, skills andknowledge needed to act professionally (Neary, 2001). As early as 1956Bloom et al devised “a taxonomy of learning objectives”. The objectives werebased on the three domains of attitudes, skills and knowledge, and defineddifferent levels of learning within each one.
This formula is stillrelevant and each domain has a particular focus.