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Showcase your practice - what to put in your portfolio

In the fourth and final article in a series on HCPC re-registration and CPD, CSP professional adviser Gwyn Owen looks at creating portfolios

File 121969 Your portfolio is unique, allowing you to create a personal account of how you and your practice have developed over time

Working for the CSP, one of the questions I most dread is: ‘What should I put in my portfolio?’

It’s as if some members think there is a magic formula, a list of dos and don’ts. My stock answer always begins with ‘Well, it depends ... ’ and I know many feel frustrated by this response.

Earlier articles in this series (published in Frontline on 1 January and 22 January 2014) stressed that the content of your portfolio is unique to you.

Portfolios allow you to create a personal account of how you and your practice have developed over time.

Chances are your portfolio will include a variety of items.

There might be a record of your reflections on an unexpected ‘thank you’ card from a patient, or photographs of flip charts produced during a workshop.

You might, for example, have recorded a message on your phone after having a meaningful chat with a peer over coffee.

Your portfolio might contain old job descriptions and CVs, paperwork from your annual appraisal, records of learning from courses and events, notes, documents and final reports of projects you have taken part in. The list is almost limitless.

Faced with so many choices, how do you decide what to include if you’ve been asked to submit a personal statement and portfolio of supporting evidence to showcase your practice?

And I suspect it’s that challenge that sits at the heart of the ‘what should I put in my portfolio?’ question.

This is the final article in the series on Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)  re-registration.

It aims to help you answer that question. Although it focuses on helping you prepare for HCPC continuing professional development (CPD) audit, the principles apply to many other situations.

For example, you might be pulling together a portfolio to support your application for a new job, or submitting a bid for an educational award or research grant.

Or you might be involved in promoting your service as part of a tendering exercise.

Understanding the expectations

If you are invited to submit a profile or personal statement and supporting portfolio of evidence, whether as part of the HCPC’s CPD audit, a job or grant application, for example, the first thing to do is to check the rules of the game.

It might seem obvious, but feedback from those involved in evaluating profiles and portfolios of evidence suggests that many applications are rejected on initial submission simply because the individual failed to submit the information requested, or presented it in the wrong format.

The time and energy you expend on checking what the audience is expecting to find in your profile or portfolio is well spent. And how will they make a judgement about the quality of your work?

For a job application, the criteria would be the list of attributes in the person specification. For a written assignment or application for an award, there should be some guidance available to help you.

Let’s imagine that I’ve been called to participate in HCPC CPD audit.

I know from reading the advice from members who completed the audit in 2012 that there’s some really useful information on the HCPC website (See CPD article in Frontline, 1 January 2014).

For my part, knowing what the HCPC expects, how my submission will be evaluated and what the submission process would help me make some informed choices over what to place in my  profile or portfolio, and about the process of preparing it for submission.

Making critical choices

Once you know what the expectations are, the next stage is to pull together information and pieces from your bank of evidence that are relevant to the submission. Don’t be too fussy.

Understanding the expectations will help you know which pieces from your bank of evidence you could use, as well as which ones to avoid – either because they’re not relevant, or would require too much additional work to reformat to meet the expectations in the time scale available.

This process is a great opportunity to look critically at what your practice is like and how you have developed over time. It’s all too easy in our busy working lives to overlook our own development.

So while the process of preparing a profile or portfolio might feel like yet another thing you’re doing for someone else, why not turn it on its head and see it as something you’re doing for yourself?

You are creating a space to recognise and value how you and your practice have changed.

Once all the information is in one space, it becomes much easier to decide what to include in your profile or portfolio.

As you begin to look at your information and evidence in more detail, start asking questions about how well it represents you and your practice and how it meets the expectations.

If you’re considering using clinical data or other forms of potentially sensitive information, you will need to take steps to ensure that confidentiality is not compromised.

The HCPC provides guidance on presenting patient-related information in a profile or portfolio submission.

Writing your profile

Having chosen some evidence you want to share, the final stage involves writing a profile – including items that describe your current practice, and explain how evidence relates to your practice, in a way that meets the expectations.

This is the part of your submission that does all the hard work – it signposts the reader to the individual pieces, relates them to the criteria, and to you and your practice.  

Use the guidance in the panel below to help you prepare a profile or portfolio of supporting evidence.

This guidance is focused on HCPC CPD audit, but the principles and process presented is relevant to other situations where you are asked to present evidence that showcases your practice and development. fl  

A quick checklist

  • Make a note of any questions you have about the HCPC expectations of registrants’ CPD and/or how the audit process works.
  • Spend some time making notes about your current physiotherapy practice. Job descriptions and paperwork from annual appraisals, mentorship or preceptorship will be useful here.
  • Use your notes to draft a thumbnail sketch of your current practice. Don’t worry too much about word-count, grammatical accuracy and so on at this stage – you can edit that later.
  • What’s more important is that you build a picture of what you do and what your practice is like.
  • Turn to the dated list that describes your CPD activity, learning outcomes and impact on your practice (see article in Frontline, 22 January 2014).
  • Highlight CPD activities and outcomes on that list that relate directly to elements of practice described in your thumbnail sketch. 
  • Find the evidence that relates to the CPD activities you have highlighted in your portfolio. Look at each piece of evidence carefully and critically to check how well it meets the HCPC’s expectations (standards 1 and 2 in particular).    
  • Once you have selected a sample of CPD activities that describe your practice and meet the HCPC’s expectations, start drafting your profile statement. Again, don’t worry too much about word-count and grammar at this point.
  • What’s important here is about building a picture of how your CPD activity links to the practice described in your initial summary.
  • Now look at your summary and profile together. Use the information you’ve gathered from HCPC’s website to check how well your draft meets the expectations. Refine and edit the content of your first draft.
  • At this point you might want to share it with a critical friend – someone who’s been through the same process, or who is familiar with the HCPC’s expectations of registrants’ CPD.
  • They may not be able to tell you whether your profile and supporting evidence will ‘pass’, but they will be able to give you feedback about overall content, flow and presentation of your work.
  • Use the feedback from a ‘critical friend’ to edit your work.
  • Once you are satisfied with the content, get it proof read – it’s amazing how closeness to a piece of writing obscures spelling and typographic errors that are obvious to a new reader.
  • Once you have submitted your work, take time out to reflect on what you have learnt from the process – about yourself, about your practice and about creating a profile and portfolio of evidence.

 

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