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Portfolios have become important tools in showing what one has achieved professionally as well as the development of one’s profession. Initially, portfolios were mostly used by architects, models, artists, and photographers. However, with their continuous essence, they have become part and parcel of many professions including nurses. Not only do portfolios show what nurses have achieved and accomplished in the past, but they also provide a layout of set goals and how these goals can be achieved. They do not take the place of curriculum vitae but have additional information and, therefore, help nurses to advertise themselves when seeking new jobs hence are essential in climbing their career ladder. This paper will, therefore, describe a portfolio, determine how useful it is in both personal and professional development, it’s content and value for nurses, the challenges of its development, and skills required to overcome these challenges.

Definition of Portfolio in Personal and Professional Development

A professional portfolio is a combination of cautiously chosen content that outlines nurses’ capability and demonstrates the skills of the nurse. This tool is very important in the nursing profession since nurses deal with people as part of their daily routine. It is developed over time and, therefore, provides a way of observing their career growth. By frequently studying the portfolio, nurses can test their growth in meeting personal and professional targets and can come up with better ways of advancing their nursing careers. A portfolio also helps in the personal development of nurses. It boosts their self-esteem since it clearly outlines what the nurse is capable of doing and what one has achieved. This makes nurses feel good about themselves and they are able to provide better services to patients.

Content of a Portfolio

It contains personal details about the nurse, which entails their personal profile and curriculum vitae, job description, their career goals (since the employer is interested to know what one is looking for in their line of work), a list of references, and places the nurse has worked or their former employers. Preferably, references should contain phone numbers since the interested employer will want to call and confirm if the information given is true. Copies of certificates for course levels should be made. For example, if it is a degree or diploma, the certificates should clearly show. If the nurse has work experience, the nurse should include it in their portfolio since it is crucial. It would be more important for fresh graduates to include their grades. Photocopies of any certificates awarded or service awards given are also important since they give personnel a good reputation. If the copies need any further details, a printed explanation should be attached. If there are any committees the nurse belongs to, they should be listed and the activities they carry out should be described. Projects did, research proposals, and findings should also be indicated since they create an added advantage.

Value of Portfolio for Nurses

A portfolio is useful since it also demonstrates what a professional is capable of doing. It, therefore, becomes necessary for nursing students to use this tool to know their weaknesses and strengths. In this way, they develop ways to acquire growth, adopt better skills, and get new knowledge. Students also get a clear view of what they have been doing in the past and from there they are able to forecast the future. The portfolio also provides a continuous evaluation of the effectiveness of a student and shows whether he or she can achieve the set target. It also provides a pathway to the achievement of the set goals by outlining the plan to be used, hence activities to be carried out are indicated.

Benefits obtained by nurses from using a portfolio include the capacity to logically expound their personnel experiences and the capacity to come up with a plan to progress career-wise, acceptance of responsibility, hence growth and development in their careers, and finally, they are able to progress themselves and their career too since the portfolio allows nurses to grow further than what they expect to achieve. For instance, in Texas Children Hospital, nurses use portfolios to develop nurses’ profession. Nurses are assessed according to their academics objectives and the growth of their portfolio in relation to their continuous career growth and ongoing nursing advancement. The hospital also found the portfolio attractive since it stated the needs of the nurses.

Challenges Nurses Face in Developing their Portfolios

In evaluating their portfolios, nurses may be assigned supervisors, who are not in the nursing profession. This may cause conflicts in portfolio analysis. It mostly happens because the goals of the nursing discipline may differ from the goals outside the nursing practice.

Developing a portfolio can be time-consuming and may require a lot of time. A lot of information is needed and gathering information takes time. It may, therefore, pose a challenge to nurses since getting time may be tricky.

If the environment within which nurses are developing this portfolio is not favorable, developing the portfolio will obviously be a problem. Some nurses work in harsh environments that may not suit them. This may include harsh working conditions or harsh supervisors, and this may make their portfolios messy.

 Uncooperative references may also be a big setback to the development of a portfolio. If the interested employer calls to confirm the references given, former employers can be unfair and this may damage the reputation of the job-seeking nurse. Complicated formats are sometimes used in developing portfolios. This makes it hard for the nurses to construct a portfolio since it is difficult to use a complicated format.

Skills Required to Overcome these Challenges

Nurses should be given a chance to evaluate themselves since they understand their own practice better. It is important to understand that the goals and directions of the nursing profession may not be similar to the goals and directions of the general public health sector. Favorable working conditions should be provided for nurses. This is because they deal with sick people daily. Fair supervisors and fair remuneration are among the few conditions that may go a long way in motivating nurses. Development and improvement of motivated nurses become easy.

References indicated in the portfolio should be cooperative. They should not be mean and must give a good word for their former employees if they deserved it. It will make it easier for the nurse seeking a job to climb his or her career ladder. Enough time should be given to nurses developing their portfolios. Deadlines are important but constructing a portfolio takes a lot of time and it would be fair if maximum time is awarded. This is because getting the right information may take some time. A simple and understandable format should be developed to avoid complications in developing the portfolio. Using difficult formats may become a challenge to nurses and they might find it to construct the portfolio.

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