How Investing in a Great Portfolio Can Help You Hit Your Career Goals
You might feel that medical portfolios are a lot of work, a source of stress, not a priority, non-essential, and confusing.
We get it. We’ve been there; rustling up essential documents last minute, frantically emailing jobs we left 3 years ago for references and paperwork, and staying up late on the eve of an appraisal desperately trying to cram in more CPD. You might think that these things are the hallmarks of being a doctor, but it’s not true.
Portfolios, when done correctly, can be a source of inspiration, calm, and confidence. They can boost your career and give you an edge over colleagues, and help you be better prepared for whatever future your career holds.
Arguably, its these moments of confused panic that are more stressful and time consuming than simply spending a couple minutes each month keeping your portfolio tidy and up to date. Hopefully (if you keep reading) we will be able to show you why, and show you how investing in a great portfolio can help you hit your career goals.
🎉 Hit your career milestones
Our #1 benefit of a great portfolio is that it will encourage you to reflect on how you want to grow as a professional and put you into a mindset where you seek the right opportunities. Knowing what you want means that you can be clear about your goals and ambitions to others, and they may then become advocates for you.
When you go into important meetings like appraisal and revalidation meetings, your portfolio should be a helpful companion that can facilitate a productive and enjoyable conversation.
This leads perfectly into benefit #2…
🩺 Get the jobs opportunities you want
You need an organised portfolio if you want to:
👉 Locum through an agency or staff bank
👉 Apply for specialty training
👉 Apply for a substantive position like a fellowship or trust grade role
👉 Publish your research
👉 Submit a poster for a presentation
👉 Write an autobiography
👉 Sucessfully revalidate your license to practice medicine
Each of these career-boosting activities requires you to collect and present information that you gather over a substantial period of time. Some of these processes run on cycles that stretch over years (i.e. revalidation is a 5 year cycle) and not having the necessary documents and portfolio evidence to hand can be a career-defining mistake.
⏳ Minimise the amount of time you waste
Imagine scrunching up a thread into a ball of knots, and then spending hours untangling it each time you need to use it. Instead, if you took the time to put the thread away neatly after each use, you’d save yourself frustration and stress.
There are so many potential time-wasting hoops you need to jump through as a doctor, and having an organised portfolio is the key to maximising your efficiency.
Have you ever:
👉 Emailed old trusts or contacts to get copies of documents you couldn’t find?
👉 Paid money to universities or organisations to send you new copies of certificates or degrees?
👉 Had a last minute panic scroll through your emails to find an attachment you can’t remember where you saved?
👉 Not applied for a prize, publication, or position because getting the paperwork together in time for the deadline would be too stressful or difficult?
👉 Repeated e-learning needlessly because you couldnt remember whether your compliance was out of date or not?
👉 Avoided a difficult task such as an appraisal or tax return because they seemed confusing or overwhelming?
👉 Forgotten to claim money back from your study budget because you couldn’t find a receipt in time?
If any of these ring even vaguely true, then you have certainly lost out as a result of a disorganised portfolio.
🙏 Protect yourself
There are some documents that you hope you will never need to have, but in the event of an emergency, you will be grateful that they are up to date and available.
Did you know that medical negligence claims can be brought against you up to three years after seeing a patient? In some cases, such as where the patient was a child, the claim could be brought against you up to 18 years or longer after the event. If the worst happens and you do get named in a lawsuit, you will need to demonstrate that you had valid medical indemnity cover at the time of the incident. Therefore, retaining old policy documents and contracts of employment is really important. You also may need to hold onto old emails, incident reports, and supervision documents where you have discussed the case. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your career and yourself.
💰 Get the most bang for your buck
Over your career you may want to do some or all of the following:
👉 Retire with a good pension
👉 Buy a property
👉 Earn or save the most that you can each year
👉 File your taxes correctly
👉 Understand your entitlements for tax deductions as a medical professional
👉 Claim money from your study budget
👉 Run a limited company or work as a sole trader
In order to do these things, you have to understand how your work pattern and employment conditions affects them, and to save the relevant documentation required for each.
For example, when you come to apply for a mortgage as a locum, you must understand the importance of having your monthly payslips to hand. Or when you are negotiating a clinical fellowship role, you need to know that proof of your most recent pay banding can result in a higher annual salary.
In our Portfolio Companion, we list the documents that you should retain in the finance section of your medical portfolio that can help you achieve these goals and avoid major mistakes that can cost you in the long run!
You may have already lost out on money, opportunities, and time as a result of a disorganised portfolio, but the good news is that you can use those losses as motivation for future success.
Our top portfolio tips are:
✅ It is better to be proactive than reactive when organising your portfolio
✅ We recommend having both digital and physical copies of your portfolio documents for safety and ease of access
✅ Following our portfolio structure can make it easier to keep your portfolio up to date
We have taken the burden of research and planning out of the equation and designed our Portfolio Companion to answer all of your portfolio-related questions including how to structure your portfolio so that you don’t lose out again in the future.
The Ultimate Guide to Your Medical Portfolio
This article is part of a wider series of resources designed to support doctors through the process of building great portfolios. The heart of this is Messly’s Portfolio Companion, which is a detailed set of guides, templates and tools to help you build and manage your portfolio with confidence. For other articles and discussion on the topic, click here.
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