How to Structure a Medical Portfolio in 3 Easy Steps
Medical portfolios can be confusing, exhausting, frustrating, and time consuming.
The challenge with portfolios is that what they need to include in them changes depending on what you are using them for. Having a well-structured portfolio means that you will always be able to locate essential documents, and can be consistent year on year when adding to your portfolio. This will help you in the future because:
👉 Knowing where you saved those emails congratulating you on exceptional work can help your appraisal and revalidation run smoothly.
👉 Providing a copy of last year’s tax documents can ensure you are offered the right salary for your new clinical fellowship.
👉 Having a copy of your FPCC certificate is a requirement when applying for specialty training.
We believe that we have solved the puzzle of portfolio structures by creating an ultimate, master portfolio structure that allows you to easily locate and extract the right evidence whenever it is requested. By putting you and your portfolio at the center of this process, you will be armed with information and ready to face anything.
You can read about our recommended portfolio structure (including all the categories and subcategories in each section) in our Portfolio Companion. Or, if you are looking for a quick overview, keep reading.
If you follow these 3 steps to create your portfolio, you’ll be able to move confidently and seamlessly through your career and come out the end with an admirable and comprehensive auto-biographical record of your working life.
🖥 Step 1: Digital vs Physical
Appraisals ask for digital documents, specialty applications ask for paper, and medical HR departments often want a mix of both. Trying to juggle all of these inconsistent demands can be both a headache and a time-waster, which is why we recommend that you keep both a digital and physical portfolio at all times.
It can be catastrophic if documents are lost or damaged so having both paper and physical copies of your portfolio is a sensible idea. Make sure that your digital documents are stored securely (password protected), and are accessible to more than one device in case it is lost, stolen or damaged.
A physical portfolio is a folder of hard-copy documents or original documents. Use a smart looking ring binder with your name on the outside or on the first page. Delineate sections with dividers, and organise your documents in clear plastic pockets. Make sure that put the title of each document on sticky labels on the plastic pockets.
A digital portfolio should have all of the same documents as your paper portfolio as well as some larger documents that are too many pages to justify printing and are easy to relocate if something catastrophic were to happen to the ePortfolio (i.e. saved to email and dropbox so a physical backup isn’t necessary).
📑 Step 2: Section your documents
Every portfolio should start with a Table of Contents. This quickly shows the reader how your portfolio is organised so that they can find the relevant information they need to see.
Arranging your documents by theme or section is a sensible way of keeping your portfolio organised. We recommend the following sections:
👉 Section 1: Employment History
This section describes your work history and includes all of the documentation related to your employment including descriptions of and references for your work, legal contracts, and important financial and tax documents.
👉 Section 2: Documents and Certificates
This section is a repository of all of the official documents and certificates relating to your registration as a medical professional.
👉 Section 3: Academic Achievements
This section encloses all of your formal academic achievements and endeavors. It is important to retain records of these as accomplishments in these areas can aid future applications by scoring you extra points.
👉 Section 4: Career Development
This section will be the part of your portfolio that changes the most each year. It is where you will store evidence of your ongoing learning and development, and collect the bulk of your evidence for appraisals and assessments.
You can explore these sections in more detail in our Portfolio Companion by clicking one each section heading, or clicking here for the Portfolio Companion home page.
✍️ Step 3: Fill in gaps
Each of the above sections has a number of subheadings or key documents that you should include in each section. From your medical school degree certificates and GMC registration document, to your annual CPD record and patient feedback, each document has its designated place.
To see the full list of which documents you should save in your portfolio, click here.
We advise that you create spaces for all of the documents listed in each section, even if you don’t have them. Leaving blank spaces helps you easily identify what is missing and what areas need more attention or work.
Remember, when adding work to your portfolio over time to always maintain patient confidentiality and not include any identifiable patient information.
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.