Building a Professional Nursing Portfolio

By Abigail Schneider MSN, RN, Clinical Content Manager
The Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Professionals, AMN Healthcare
Building a Professional Nursing Portfolio
Consider this: A position has opened in the one unit where you have always wanted to work. You apply for the position and are soon called to schedule an interview with the manager of the unit. As you are hanging up, the human resources specialist asks if you can send over an electronic copy of your portfolio so that the manager can review it prior to the interview. Is your first thought, “I need a portfolio?”

If you have ever wondered if you should have a professional portfolio, the answer is yes! A well-developed portfolio is a chronological, visual representation of your professional growth. The portfolio does not replace your curriculum vitae (CV) or resume, rather it is the supporting documentation that validates what you have stated on your CV (Alfred, L. 2016). Where a CV or resume is an overview of past education, employment, skills and other pertinent professional activities, the portfolio provides a detailed look at your accomplishments.

Compiling your portfolio should be done with careful consideration of the content. Elements that should always be included are:
• Title page
• Table of contents
• Professional mission statement
• Cover letter
• Copy of CV or resume
• Professional licensure/certifications
• Transcripts (if a new graduate nurse, or applying for a new role upon completion of a higher educational degree)
• Performance evaluations
• Examples of professional work (education, articles, research, advance roles)
• Professional development activities/memberships in professional organizations
(Chamblee, T.B., Conkin, D., Drews, B., & Hardin, T. 2015) (Alfred, L. 2016)

Each element should provide proof of knowledge, achievements, or skills that you have acquired as a result of your professional development. Your portfolio can range from a few pertinent documents to several pages, depending on the depth of your experience and professional development.

Once you arrive at your interview, be prepared to put your professional portfolio to use. Bring a copy with you and use it to demonstrate your wealth of experience and to help substantiate what you are saying, (Alfred, 2016). As you respond to the interviewer’s questions, take the opportunity to produce supporting documentation that will provide the interviewer with evidence of your experience. Upon completion of the interview, you should also be prepared to leave a copy of your portfolio with the person leading the interview (Alfred, 2016).

A well-developed portfolio provides potential employers with a deeper understanding of the scope of your professional experience, education, evaluations and awards. Nurses who have invested valuable time and energy in their careers should highlight their accomplishments in a clear, organized manner. The use of a professional portfolio will not replace a CV or resume, but will complement those materials, while validating your professional accomplishments. For more information on nursing professional development consider this course from RN.com: Professional Nursing Practice: An Update.

Over the past several months RN.com has presented four articles that provide valuable strategies to guide nurses onto the path of ongoing professional development: Nursing Organizations: The Role They Play in Professional Development; Nursing Professional Development: The Value of Nursing Conferences; Nursing Professional Development: Continuing Education, and Professional Communication: How’s your EQ?

Alfred, L. (2016). Polishing your professional portfolio. Radiation Therapist, 25(1), 87-88.

Chamblee, T.B., Dale, J.C., Drews, B., Spahis, J., & Hardin, T. (2015). Implementation of a professional portfolio: A tool to demonstrate professional development for advanced practice. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 29(1), 113-117. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264386616_Implementation_of_a_Professional_Portfolio_A_Tool_to_Demonstrate_Professional_Development_for_Advanced_Practice

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