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
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.