Nursing school is the ultimate test of organization. Organizing study notes, clinical hours, clinical notes, nursing diagnosis, medication side effects, disease processes…the lists are really endless. You’d think that once you graduate you would catch a break on having to keep track of so much. Not a chance. Aside from developing a fantastic resume to secure your dream job – you need to continue to track your CE/CEUs, memberships and all levels of licensure. Time to create your Nursing Portfolio.
Let’s get started. Your Nursing Portfolio should have anything and everything that highlights your nursing career. All you need is a binder – I am certain you have one around from all your classes. Dust one off & you’re half way there. Then there is the coversheet. I kept mine pretty simple but feel free to dress it up. This is your portfolio, be certain to take the time and make that cover look good – you never know who might see it. The next step is the division inside.
Keeping it simple I used general page dividers that you can get from any office supply store. You might even have some left over from nursing school (I tend to save everything so I always have a stockpile on hand!). The most important addition to the portfolio should be your resume. This is the first item once you open the binder.
Then I divided the binder into six sections: License, Presentation, Organizations, CE/CEUs, Preceptor, Miscellaneous
This is where I keep track of professional memberships. Nursing is the most respected profession for many years now, and do believe in strength in numbers. Currently my memberships include the American Nurses Association (ANA) which includes national and state memberships. I also belong to the Illinois Society for Advance Practice Nursing (ISAPN) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Usually I print the membership invoice to show when my membership will lapse (so I can renew easily!) but also easy access to membership numbers.
This is probably the most important aspect of your portfolio. CE/CEUs are earned throughout your career via a variety of sources. You can earn credits at conferences, online, webinars, lunch & learns, employer educational activities – the opportunities are endless. When it comes for license renewal (for RNs – 2 years and 20 CEUs for the state of Illinois) or certifications (every 5 years for most Nurse Practitioners) it helps to have your CE/CEUs organized. Usually I add the conference certificate CE print-outs right to the binder and print out yearly updates from UpToDate and Medscape which both keep track of my hours.
Yes, one day you will be the preceptor. It doesn’t feel like that now, but soon enough you will be one showing a nursing student everything he or she needs to know to make it through the shift. When you precept a student for an entire semester or rotation, the school representing the student usually present a certificate of completion that may convert to CE hours. My latest NP student rotation, the hours precepted resulted in total CEs of 25 hours. Not too shabby. Even without CE credits these preceptor certificates can help with yearly reviews, job interviews or applications to grad school.
This is what we worked so hard for! This section I do step it up a notch and all my licensure forms are in their own page protectors. I just didn’t have the heart to punch holes in any of them. While you might only have your state Registered Nurse license it is still important to have on hand. Any additional certifications, for example from ANCC Med-Surg, Cardiac-Vascular, Gerontological, Pediatric, etc. are important additions to this section. If you continue on and earn your Nurse Practitioner certification you will also have that state license, plus your DEA number, State Advanced Practice Controlled Substance license and NPI number. It is a lot to keep track of and handy to have it all in one location. In this section I also add copies of my diplomas & certifications.
Same rules apply here – you might not think that you’ll ever be in a position to actually speak or present a poster at a conference, but it could happen. This past year I had a poster presentation at the National Nurse Practitioner Symposium and a podium presentation at the ANCC National Magnet Conference. In the portfolio I kept a copy of the abstract submission which includes the conference, title and content summary. I was also able to add a copy of the poster (in very tiny print!) and do have a slide summary of the podium presentation for reference. Hopeful one day to add published content to this section!
Here I have a compilation of various awards, certification of recognition and appreciation – most are from my employer but a few are from other agencies. Always good to keep around.
Your best bet is to start your nursing portfolio IN nursing school. However, I can assure you it is never too late to pull this together and have everything listed here in one place. While my nursing career started in 2006, this binder didn’t become a reality until about 2010 when a mentor introduced me to the concept. It still sat untouched for a few more years until my own master’s degree became a reality & couldn’t imaging managing my nursing career without it!