This is a recommendation for your professional development. Participants in the Post-Degree BSN option will keep a program portfolio throughout to track their individual learning experiences and reflect on their professional growth. Although portfolio development is common to other occupations and professions (architecture, modeling, teaching), it is relatively new to nursing. Professional nursing regulatory bodies are beginning to incorporate portfolios as evidence of ongoing competence as part of annual licensure. Portfolios are also a focus for reflective self-evaluation and can be used when applying for jobs. Your portfolio development will be part of your assessment of your own growth and development as a nurse.
There are many conceptions of portfolios, but in the Post-Degree BSN option, a portfolio is viewed as a “collection of evidence which demonstrates the continuing acquisition of skills, knowledge, attitudes, understanding and achievement. It is both retrospective and prospective” (Brown, 1995, p. 2). It is “a comprehensive document completed by the nurse that details the current state of his or her practice, background, skills, expertise and perhaps most important, a working plan for professional growth” (Trossman, 1999).
Your portfolio will not be used by your facilitators to evaluate your progress in the nursing program; however, you may choose to share elements of your portfolio with faculty when you are discussing your learning goals and achievements. There are a variety of ways to organize and develop your portfolio. Remember, your portfolio is a reflection of yourself, so be as creative as you can.
When selecting entries for your portfolio, nursing students should bear in mind each piece is part of a much larger whole and that together, the item and rationale make a powerful statement about individual professional development. Ask the following:
- What do I want my portfolio to show about me as a nurse? What are my attributes as a nurse?
- What do I want my portfolio to demonstrate about me as a learner? How and what have I learned?
- What directions for my future growth and development does my self-evaluation suggest? How can I show them in my portfolio?
- What points have others made about me as a nurse and learner? How can I show them in my portfolio?
- What effect does my nursing have upon my clients? How can I show this in my portfolio?
- What overall impression do I want my portfolio to give a reviewer about me as a learner and as a nurse?
When decision-making about what to include becomes a challenge, it may be helpful to look at each item and ask yourself, “What would including this item add that has not already been said or shown?”
The following are suggestions for possible ways to organize your portfolio. You may use any, all, or none of them as you wish (Winsor, 1997).
- Use a good-quality three-ring binder or some other format that helps organize and protect the items. Begin with an identification page that includes name, address and telephone number. Pictures are optional.
- Place care plans, papers, or otherwise irregularly shaped entries in plastic sleeves or pockets. Do not damage any item in order to include it. For example, do not hole-punch a certificate; rather, put in a plastic sleeve.
- Remember portfolios are representative, not comprehensive. For example, choose one or two representative cards from clients. Make sure all entries are securely attached within the portfolio. Bulky items should not be included. A picture may be substituted for real items (e.g. a picture of your Infectious Disease Fair display or other poster presentations).
- Include a Table of Contents that identifies the overall organization of the portfolio. Indicate and label the sections clearly. Colour-coding and/or oversized dividers may be helpful.
- Within each section, include a Table of Contents for each entry, and include a statement explaining why you have included the item.
- If using journal entries, facilitator’s observations, or other written documents as evidence, highlight the sentence or two on the page that directly applies to the point made in your accompanying rationale or reflection.
- If using academic papers as evidence of subject area knowledge, include a brief abstract of the paper and insert the whole paper in a plastic sleeve.
- In general, arrange your portfolio in a way that makes it easy for you to identify the goals you set and your subsequent progress or achievement.
- Remember portfolios are dynamic. To facilitate easy changes, set up word processing files for your statements of rationale, reflections and tables of contents, etc.
Brown, R. (1995). Portfolio Development and Profiling for Nurses. (2nd ed.). Lancaster, England: Quay.
Trossman, S. (1999). The Professional Portfolio: Documenting who you are, and what you do. The American Nurse 31(2):1-3.
Winsor, P. J. T. (1997) A Guide to the Development of Professional Portfolios in the Faculty of Education (Revised Edition) Appendix E-1. Field Experience Office, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta.
Students may also wish to review the following more recent resources:
Kaminski, J. (1999-2008). Learning activities: Professional portfolios: Spreadsheet Application.
Nursing Informatics for BSN Nursing Students Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Retrieved from http://nursing-informatics.com/kwantlen/nrsg1241.html.
Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (October 2005). Demonstrating and assessing student learning with e-portfolios. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3003.pdf.
Reese, M., & Levy, R. (February 24, 2009). Assessing the future: E-portfolio trends, uses and options in higher education. Educause Research Bulletin, 2009(4). Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB0904.pdf.