How to Develop a Professional Nurse Portfolio

Developing a professional nurse portfolio is much more than creating a resume, or a curriculum vitae account of your education. While it’s true that your portfolio involves an accurate and up-to-date record of your employment history as well as your schooling and certifications, for a nurse there is a lot more involved.

The more detailed and precise your portfolio, the more a potential employer, grant presenter, or professional organization can see into your true nature as a nurse. Your professional nurse portfolio offers them a glimpse through actual evidence of your skills, achievements, experience, and responsibilities.

 Type of Professional Nurse Portfolio

There are two varieties of professional nurse portfolios you’ll want to develop to chart your nursing success. The first one is a Growth and Development portfolio. This is your main portfolio and will hold all evidence of your educational experience, certifications, achievements, and honors. Think of your Growth and Development portfolio as your personal file. You will add to this portfolio as you, well, grow and develop. This file of information is for you alone.

You will draw on your Growth and Development portfolio to create your Best Work portfolio. This professional nurse portfolio is a collection of items specific to your purpose. In other words, if you’re seeking consideration for an award, achievement, promotion, or job change, you would submit this portfolio.

How to Build Your Portfolio

You should begin amassing materials for your main portfolio as early as possible in your nursing career. Gather objective evidence and documents beginning in nursing school. These items will include such things as your diplomas and degrees you have earned, certificates for achievements, including attendance, letters confirming appreciation for article submissions, clinical recognition, and pathways. Also remember to include patient-education plans as well as your personal philosophy of nursing.

You’ll also need copies of your transcripts from each school you have attended, such as undergrad and grad programs, different colleges and universities, and any certification for continued education or training programs which you have attended and completed. Your professional development, training, and clinical experience should be documented every six months in order to demonstrate your growth in your education. There are no specific certifications presented for these programs, so you may need to write your account and ask your supervisor to initial the document, but their sign-off isn’t necessary.

Maintain as You Grow

As you continue in your career, and advance as a nurse, make sure to document your contributions. Keep a copy of your job description as it changes in your advancement. Place copies of your yearly evaluations into your professional nurse portfolio, along with a list of nurses you’ve taught along the way in your role as a preceptor. Add patient care summaries for those cases in which you’ve been deeply involved.

Any professional presentations, service organization recognition, or letters of appreciation should be kept in your professional nurse portfolio. If you have articles that have been published, place copies into your portfolio, along with citations. Posters, photos, brochures, newspaper write-ups, and grant awards, as well as the project for which you received the grant, should be kept in your professional nurse portfolio as well.

Finally, a yearly self-assessment should be performed and kept in your professional nursing profile as a record of your log- and short-term goals and plans. Formulate a five year plan for yourself professionally, and evaluate your progress annually. This is as much for your own benefit as it is evidence of your growth and development in your career.

When to Use Your Professional Nurse Portfolio

When you submit items from your professional nurse portfolio for consideration and review choose those that are most relevant to the award, promotion, or recognition which you’re seeking. Organize quality copies of these items in a binder, with tabs, for your submission. You may want to email a copy of your portfolio as a file, then follow up with the hard copy binder by messenger or mail. Make sure to use a binder, in any event, as it shows a degree of professionalism. Above all, maintain confidences and do not share anything that would violate the HIPAA laws.

Whether you’re finishing up your clinicals, or a seasoned pro looking for a new position, your professional nurse portfolio is your ticket to advancing in your career. Assembling and maintaining an account of your professional growth is as essential for you to recognize your value as a nurse as it is for employers.

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