In a world where keeping up with personal details, information and background history can be difficult, having a professional portfolio for work purposes can be an easy and effective way to help keep track of one’s own personal development. It serves as a central location for all your career-related documents so that you can locate them easily (Jonson, 2012) and as a reference point that gathers information attaining to records of your competencies, skills, abilities, evidence of growth and achievements over time (Jonson, 2012). For a nurse, a professional portfolio assists in compiling evidence that demonstrates one’s competence to practice nursing (Mills, 2009). It can also be used to help record one’s best work and accomplishments over at least a three year period, assisting in marketing that person’s attributes to future employers and businesses. A portfolio can include a number of items to showcase a person’s quality, such as a letter of recommendation, resume/ curriculum vitae, a record of academic experiences, selection criteria relevant to the job position being applied for, reflective practice pieces (which help provide insight into the person’s ability to evaluate and improve their own working skills) and a career plan which illustrates their three to five year objectives and goals. Unlike a resume, a professional portfolio showcases a nurse’s progress in meeting selection criteria, personal and professional goals and assists in better planning their careers within nursing (Oermann, 2002).
The significance of having a professional portfolio is that it inspires you to take a greater responsibility for your own learning through the decision making process involving selecting evidence and reflecting on what that evidence demonstrates (Jones, 2010). It allows a nurse to expand and build confidence over what they have already achieved, showcasing to potential employers your best traits, aspirations, qualifications and personality through the use of supporting evidence and documentation. An example of this could be a list of professional memberships, awards and achievements, being an active participant in research activities and a list of your most recent clinical practice records. With a portfolio, nurses can more easily market themselves to potential employers, illustrating their value and how they can fulfil the demands of the position advertised (Oermann, 2002). The impact to having a well constructed portfolio is that it creates a positive impression on the applicant, showing that they are serious about pursuing the job position they are applying for having made the effort to construct a portfolio that is in every way professional and should be taken seriously for consideration.
Since nurses in the health care setting are required to maintain a record of written documentation relating to their Continuing Professional Development (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2010), having a professional portfolio is a perfect example as to why nurses need to construct a folder that can appropriately file and store all of their ongoing training and paperwork material that is considered a legal requirement by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. As a stand point, it is about the nurse taking personal accountability and responsibility for their own actions and being able to meet the registration standards set out by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2006). As part of that requirement, each year a Registered Nurse must partake in 20 hours worth of continuing professional development in order to maintain their nursing registration (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2010). The documentation that comes out of a person’s self-directed learning must be kept up to date, detailed with a description and should be verified (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, 2010). In a professional portfolio, storing such