Portfolios were first introduced to New Zealand nursing in 1988. In the almost three decades since then, the portfolio process has spread, evolved, been refined and now embraces new technologies. Despite this, the thought of starting a portfolio can still put some registered nurses into a tailspin.

While portfolios are developed for many reasons, the three main reasons are to:

  • Store career, education and practice information.
  • Meet the requirements of a random recertification audit by the Nursing Council of New Zealand.
  • Meet requirements for a professional development and recognition programme (PDRP). (If you can join one of the country’s 29 PDRP programmes it is advantageous as PDRP is a Nursing Council-approved process)

Options to present

The first thing to decide is how you would like to present your portfolio:

1. Hard copy desk file: this is the traditional way and involves collecting and copying items to add into a file or organiser.

2. Electronic portfolios: either simple computer-based files or your organisation’s electronic nursing portfolio programme.

3. ePortfolio: A number of organisations have opted to link with the ePortfolio developed by Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (www.ngamanukura.co.nz), including the College of Nurses Aotearoa. This is a simple way to store and present your information and the Nursing Council will accept random audits presented this way.

Any of these methods can be used for a recertification audit, storing information or even a PDRP; they are simply ways of carrying your evidence (if you are linked to a PDRP, check with your coordinator).

A portfolio is a way of presenting evidence of your practice to a standard agreed across New Zealand. Whether you work in a small, independent practice, an aged care facility or a DHB, or whether you are randomly audited
or part of a PDRP programme, undertaking a portfolio is an opportunity to take stock, reflect and consider where you are in your career.


Getting started

  • Once you have decided (see above) how you are going to present your portfolio: Create or use an existing checklist of items required for your portfolio.
  • If it’s a hard copy portfolio, find a folder with plastic sleeves and use sticky notes to label the evidence needed to fill each empty sleeve.
  • Keep it simple, professional and tidy.

Collecting evidence

  • If you’re unsure how to begin self-assessing against the up to 20 Nursing Council competencies required (depending on the nature of your practice i.e. clinical or education etc), begin with the ones you can fill now, rather than starting with Competency 1.1.
  • You need one piece of evidence per competency, so look at the competency indicators to decide what piece of evidence you would insert under that competency.
  • Only use things that describe your competency; e.g. if you attend an education session, include verification that you attended (a certificate) and a reflection on what you learned. (NB a flyer advertising the education session is not evidence of competence.)
  • A nurse assessor has to assess your work within a given timeframe so only add items that are required, current and relevant.
  • The assessor will be looking for objective examples of your practice.
  • If someone writes you a reference letter, ask them to link it to the four domains of practice.
  • Ask your peer reviewer to include examples of actions or activities from your practice.
  • Use normal language. You don’t have to write an academic essay (though you do need to reference if you use someone else’s words or ideas).
  • If you are isolated in your role (e.g. not many other nurses around), describe how you engage professionally i.e. where do you meet other health professionals to share ideas, access education or review cases?

Common pitfalls

  • Be aware of privacy issues: never use identifiers of any sort, such as patient names, NHI numbers, addresses or names of any other health professionals.
  • Stick to the rule that you won’t use anything that can identify anyone unless you have their written consent.
  • Items with privacy implications include emails (also not considered good quality or objective evidence) and thank-you cards (nice to receive but meant only for you).
  • Meeting minutes don’t demonstrate competence. If you attend a professional group or meetings, get a verified note from the organiser.
  • Watch your use of acronyms: assessors may not know the abbreviations commonly used in your setting.

Before you hand in your portfolio

  • Develop a contents page so your assessor can easily find evidence.
  • Make sure you have considered every page.
  • Show your portfolio to a colleague who
    can proofread it and check it is complete. You can ‘share’ your ePortfolio with a colleague.

NB The College of Nurses Aotearoa is offering portfolio workshops again in 2015; please contact the college for further information and dates www.nurse.org.nz

Liz Manning RN, BN, MPhil is a consultant and College of Nurses board member.


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