What is a Medical Portfolio and Why do I Need One?
This article is part of a wider series supporting doctors to build and maintain a great portfolio by learning about what you’ll be asked for, how to find and structure the information, plus answers to common questions and top tips along the way. Check out Messly’s Portfolio Companion, or this page for details of other articles about portfolios.
🤔 What is a medical portfolio?
The term ‘portfolio’ or ‘medical portfolio’ is used differently depending on who’s asking, but in general, a portfolio is a doctor’s record of their professional career, and should provide evidence of your commitment to developing your knowledge and skills.
Information from your portfolio can be requested at job interviews, during specialty applications, or at ARCP, appraisal, or revalidation meetings. Each one of these will need slightly different aspects of your portfolio to be presented.
💼 Why do I need a medical portfolio?
A great medical portfolio is an essential part of your career toolkit, and a key asset as you move through your career as a doctor.
✅ The information within it forms the heart of your appraisal, and your appraiser will base the conversation with you around the information which you share from your portfolio. A comprehensive and thoughtful portfolio is therefore key to a successful appraisal.
✅ When looking for jobs or specialty training, your portfolio gives a detailed insight into who you are as a doctor. It can be the deciding factor as to whether you get invited to interview.
✅ Your portfolio contains key documents that employers will ask to see over and over again. Keeping them safe and organised can make life straightforward as you move between Trusts, jobs, staff banks and locum agencies.
✅ Your portfolio can be a colourful and interesting record of your achievements over your career, and can be nice to reflect back on in the future. Keeping a record of your work as you go is much easier than trying to do it retrospectively - imagine trying to find the reflections that you did as a medical student now, or evidence of your F1 competencies as a consultant!
An organised portfolio can also help you identify areas for development and improvements well before your appraisal or revalidation comes around which can save you stress and last-minute work in the lead up to these important meetings.
Because of the range of uses for your medical portfolio, we recommend having a master portfolio that you create and maintain yourself which can be adapted for use in each of these different scenarios. Our tips on how to structure your master portfolio can be found in our dedicated Portfolio Companion page here.
🩺 Do I need a medical portfolio if…
👉 I am a trainee?
Yes, you will be expected to maintain a portfolio as a trainee doctor for your annual ARCP meetings to show that you have met the training standards and curriculum requirements to progress through the training grades. What type of evidence you need to keep will depend on the type of trainee you are (i.e. surgical trainees need to keep a surgical logbook, whereas GP trainees may not need to do this unless they have a special interest in minor surgery).
👉 I am a locum doctor?
Yes, you will need to maintain a portfolio as you still need to do an appraisal as a locum, and you are responsible for collecting and maintaining the portfolio evidence that you will present at your appraisal and revalidation meetings. Your portfolio is also a useful collection of the registration and compliance documents which staff banks and a locum agencies require before you can work with them.
👉 I am leaving medicine?
Yes, and no. If you are confident that you are leaving medicine permanently and have no intention of ever returning in the future (who is ever that certain, really?) then you may not need to keep a portfolio. You should still keep some documents like your degree certificates, evidence of medical indemnity for the period that you did work, and tax and pension documents, etc which may be useful in the future, even outside of a medical career.
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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