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Developing a professional nursing portfolio

Section Editor(s): Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

doi: 10.1097/01.NME.0000457285.39465.5c
Department: Editorial

CCU/CVICU Clinical Nurse • Heritage Medical Center • Shelbyville, Tenn.

Clinical Nurse/Charge Nurse/CCRN Review Program Coordinator • Alvin C. York VA Medical Center • Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Editorial Advisory Board Member • Nursing made Incredibly Easy!

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As you progress during your nursing career, it's vital to keep an accurate and up-to-date record of your journey. Developing a professional nursing portfolio is one way to preserve your educational, clinical, and professional accomplishments.

A professional portfolio is the documentation of your skills, professional achievements, and nursing experience. It provides your peers, future employers, and educational faculty with a comprehensive view of the path you've taken to arrive where you currently are as a clinically skilled nurse. A professional portfolio isn't a résumé or curriculum vitae, which typically contain basic information such as educational institutions you've attended, current and past nursing positions held, and other background and demographic information. Rather, it provides evidence of the competencies and expertise that you've developed as a result of these experiences.

Your professional portfolio should contain a summary of your education, licensure, and employment history with supporting documents, such as copies of college or graduate school transcripts, licenses, continuing education units, in-service attendance, awards, annual performance appraisals, dates of promotions, and letters of recommendation from current or previous employers or colleagues (see Essential professional nursing portfolio components). Keep a copy of your current and previous job description in your portfolio if possible.

Other subjective documents, such as case histories and exemplars that demonstrate competency, can also be added to your professional portfolio, as can narratives reflecting your nursing practice. Detailed summaries of patient case histories in which you played a significant role in positive clinical outcomes may also be included. You may also want to add a list of professional growth and skill competencies that you plan to complete in the future to attain your long-term career goals.

Maintain your professional portfolio to reflect your development of knowledge and skills over time, and present evidence of competencies to market yourself when applying for career ladder positions or new jobs in nursing. Keep your portfolio in both hard copy and electronic formats. Use a three-ring binder to organize your compiled hard copy documentation. Label the sections with tabs that identify each subject. Ideally, you should keep an electronic version of your portfolio backed up on more than one computer.

Use your professional nursing portfolio to plan for future continuing education, professional development, and educational or employment goals. Many undergraduate and graduate nursing programs conduct admission interviews and may ask to review your portfolio to assist with selecting optimal candidates. Your professional portfolio is a tool to showcase your ongoing education, clinical competence, leadership skills, and dedication to advancing your nursing expertise. Get started today!

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Essential professional nursing portfolio components

  • Name, demographics, and health records (including immunizations and current physical)
  • Education
  • License(s)
  • Specialty certification(s)
  • CPR/BLS/ACLS/ATLS/PALS/NALS cards with renewal dates
  • CEU certificates
  • Professional organization membership(s)
  • Personal philosophy of nursing
  • List of committees and professional projects
  • Annual performance appraisal
  • Professional awards
  • Scholarly publications or presentations
  • Letters of appreciation from supervisors, peers, or patients
  • Letters of recommendation from supervisors or peers for career advancement
  • Future career goals
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