What is a Professional Portfolio?  Why develop one?

A professional portfolio is a collection of documents showcasing the breadth and depth of your professional credentials and major accomplishments. It is more inclusive than a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). In addition to educational background, credentials, and previous positions, the professional portfolio also contains essential scope-of-expertise, as well as examples of your clinical, professional, scholarship, research, and service accomplishments.

All health professionals are responsible for compiling essential documents and credentials that establish them as competent and legally, as well as professionally, authorized to practice. Developing your professional portfolio should be the first step you take as a new graduate–or in advancing your practice as an experienced NP, midwife, or PA.

Below is a template for constructing a professional portfolio with a focus on preparation and experience in peri-abortion care. peri-abortion care encompasses pregnancy options counseling through the abortion procedure (medication, aspiration) to postabortion follow-up and care

Professional Portfolio Template—Focus: Peri-Abortion Care

  1. Education and Training: Role Preparation (RN, APRN, PA)
    1. Institutions, program of study, dates
    2. Type of degree, diplomas, certificates, transcripts
    3. Course information: titles, descriptions, units, outlines
    4. Clinical residencies, units/hours, site, preceptors
    5. Procedural skills and special courses (e.g., ACLS, suturing, adolescent health)
  2. Education and Training: Population Preparation (primary care, women’s health)
    1. Institution, program of study, dates, degree and/or certificate
    2. Continuing education contact hour certificates
    3. Course information: titles, descriptions, units, outlines
    4. Clinical residencies, units/hours, site, preceptors
    5. Procedural skills and special courses (e.g., endometrial biopsy, MVA, infertility care, IUD placement, menopause management)
  3. Education and Training: Specialty Preparation (peri-abortion care)
    1. Training program, course of study, dates
    2. Clinical training hours, site, preceptor
    3. Specialty competencies of peri-abortion care: pregnancy options counseling, diagnostics (e.g., ultrasound), abortion counseling, interventions (e.g., MVA, EVA, local anesthesia, cervical dilation, pain management), postabortion care, complication management
    4. Clinical guidelines and standards of care for abortion care (National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood Federation Committee of Abortion Providers)
    5. Position abortion care within overall philosophy of care–national health goals, your profession’s philosophy of care, patients’ health core competencies
  4. Legal Credential—License
    1. Documentation of state license(s) for RN, APRN, or PA
    2. Record of application documentation
    3. Copy of license with COPY written over it but not in color
  5. Professional Credential—Certification
    1. Professional certification program
      1. Role certification (CNM, NP, PA)
      2. Population certification (patients’ health, family, adult, pediatrics, etc.)
      3. Additional or specialty certifications (e.g., colposcopy, first assist for C-sections, medication abortion)
    2. Record certification as voluntary or mandatory (second license for advanced practice)
    3. Documentation of original certification and recertification
  6. Scope-of-Expertise Documents and History
    1. Philosophy of practice documents
    2. Scope and standards of practice (role, population, specialty)
    3. Core competencies (role, population, specialty)
    4. Code of ethics
    5. Clinical guidelines and standards of care (role, population, specialty)
  7. Professional Experience and Clinical Accomplishments
    1. Employment/practice history
      1. Institution, dates, role, advancement
    2. Other professional credentials
      1. Payer and provider authorization (e.g., federal/private insurances)
      2. Prescriptive and DEA authority
    3. Institution-specific documents
      1. Delegation agreements
      2. Admitting privileges
      3. Clinical guidelines
    4. Special recognition—honors, awards, news clippings
    5. Performance appraisals—employment or preceptor (competency-based)
      1. Role performance as CNM, NP, PA
      2. Population competencies: patients’ health (e.g., contraception, fertility protection, obstetrics/maternity care, gynecologic expertise or competency)
      3. Specialty competencies: abortion care, including provision of abortion procedure
    6. List of clinical skills and procedures by role, population, and specialty (differentiate these skills from those learned in a formal entry-level or postgraduate training program; list skills learned in the practice setting)
    7. Clinical logs; patient summary data by role, population, and specialty
    8. Sample of clinical documentation
    9. Patient education materials by role, population, and specialty
    10. Evidence of clinical teaching and presentations
      1. Lesson plans, evaluations, teaching materials (e.g., handouts)
      2. Learner type: students, residents, peers, colleagues
  8. Scholarship/Research
    1. Publications, posters, exhibits (by organization or institution)
    2. Project/research summary reports
  9. Professional/Community Service
    1. Professional organization membership–list elected office, committee participation
    2. Community activities–volunteer or elected positions

Download a printable PDF version of this list.

Case Study: Developing a Portfolio in Response to a Challenge

In 2006, when an Oregon FNP was investigated by the Board of Nursing for a potential violation of scope of practice, the NP created a portfolio that became the foundation of the template included in this Toolkit.

Having all essential documents–licenses, certifications, nursing/NP education, training in abortion care, practice standards, and clinical practice documents–in one easily accessible format made the investigation go much more smoothly. The portfolio demonstrated the interconnectedness of all her education, training and expertise–not just her work in reproductive health, but preparation and competency associated with primary care, mental health, and other aspects of her practice that showed abortion care to be a natural extension of her work with patients and families.

The detailed course outlines and clinical training materials relating to abortion care included in the portfolio proved critical in the investigation because the investigator was largely unaware of how the abortion procedure was performed or the elements of standard abortion training. The thorough review of abortion care standards, including procedural steps, provided in the portfolio was vital to the favorable ruling. A regulatory board cannot accurately assess how abortion is situated within scope of practice without complete and accurate information.

Additional supporting evidence included:

  • statements of support from professional and practice organizations;
  • empirical research demonstrating the safety of abortion care and the competency of NPs as abortion providers;
  • documentation of patients’ lack of access to abortion care nationally and in her state, and the NP’s role in meeting patient needs in a medically-underserved part of the state; and
  • personal letters of support from respected clinician colleagues who spoke to the need for primary care providers to integrate abortion into their rural or community-based clinics.

The portfolio format allowed the NP to refer easily to these documents during the investigation and demonstrated to the Board of Nursing this NP’s thoughtfulness and careful consideration in pursuing abortion care as a natural part of her scope of practice.

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