Most specialties will ask for a portfolio as part of the interview process, here you will find tips and advice to give some direction in starting to build a portfolio of evidence towards your chosen specialty.
A portfolio is a paper-based folder that contains evidence of your achievements to date, it is separate to your Foundation e-portfolio which does not link into the portfolio you present at your specialty interview. The portfolio structure varies from one specialty to another but the principles behind the portfolio are consistent across specialties.
Most specialties will have an interview station in the selection process based upon your portfolio, an interviewer (or two) will ask you questions about the evidence in your portfolio in order to learn more about you and your achievements.
Evidence required in a portfolio
Your specialty will have clear marking criteria for the portfolio and you may be required to self-assess against these criteria (see HEE person specification summaries). In general terms though, specialties are looking for evidence of the following things in a portfolio which you can gather during any of your rotations :
Commitment to specialty
Many specialties will want you to demonstrate commitment to your chosen career path.
Attended relevant courses
Carried out relevant audits
Teaching sessions on relevant topics
Part 1 membership exams.
An understanding of current updates in your chosen specialty
Clinical knowledge and skills
Logbook of procedures
Foundation Programme competencies
Relevant skills courses, e.g. ALS
Audit and QIPs
Completed audit loop
QIP with clinical impact
Publications and presentations
Few trainees have publications on their CV and often the ‘Research’ section is a key opportunity to differentiate yourself.
Leadership and management
Evidence of involvement in management commensurate with experience
Understanding of NHS management and resources
Evidence of effective multi-disciplinary team working and leadership, supported by multi- source feedback or other workplace-based assessments
Evidence of effective leadership in and outside medicine e.g. running a sports society/ music group
Local/regional/national teaching (often with increasing marks)
Feedback for teaching
Designing teaching courses
Some specialties will have a separate section on reflection. Even in those specialties that do not, including a few lines of reflection on the work or event that you are evidencing could be valuable. It demonstrates that you are willing and able to learn ‘on the job’ and capable of being a self-directed and reflective learner. Show what you have learned from your experience, demonstrate that you can think critically about what you learned and what you still have to learn in order to work within your chosen specialty.
The portfolio is the part of your interview process that you have the most control over. You can take the time to plan and evidence your achievements without the pressure of an interview situation. This gives you the chance to really demonstrate what sets you apart from other trainees and to demonstrate you are ‘trainable’.
it takes many hours to put together a high-quality portfolio that will reflect your ability.
Strategically seek opportunities to enhance your portfolio over the next few months. You will need to be pro-active to find those things that will set you apart from your peers in foundation training
If is often easier to compile the evidence whilst you are in the Foundation Programme rather than during an FY3 year
Keep your evidence in a safe place
You will need to find old certificates, collect feedback from teaching, present audits, request references, ask people to email confirmation of attendance/ participation and hang onto thank you cards and letters from patients. This takes time and you may find yourself dependent on others for evidence, as such, it is worth starting to collect it in a folder early on.
Your interviewer(s) may review your portfolio before they meet you, so it will be their first impression of you.
Buy a nice-looking file and put time into making it look professional.
Read the specialty-specific guidance carefully and make sure you structure your portfolio exactly as requested. Your interviewer has a lot of these portfolios to look through on the day and you need to make sure they can find all the information quickly and easily.
If you are asked to provide a self-assessment or tick list sheet at the front, make sure this is done exactly as the guidance says.
Put evidence into plastic wallets but make sure you keep everything ‘facing outwards.’ Do not hide information behind other pieces of paper, make it easy for your interviewer to see all the evidence.
Highlight key information and use post it notes to annotate, this can help interviewers quickly identify the key evidence.
If you have multiple pieces of evidence, like feedback forms from teaching, collate all responses on a single sheet then place the actual evidence in a folder behind it.