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How to Write a Nursing Portfolio

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It's safe to say most people are familiar with what a resume is: an overview of your educational and employment backgrounds, possibly spiced up with your career objectives or highlights, designed to get you the job you want. But a portfolio may be less familiar. While it sounds like something a fashion designer might need -- and, in fact, it is -- a portfolio is also an important element of a nurse's career summary.

Make it Attractive

Your nursing portfolio is a supplement to your resume. While your resume contains the nuts and bolts of your experience, your portfolio is a detailed and intimate explanation of your dedication to nursing. In our digital world, having an electronic copy of your portfolio is always wise. You can include web pages and power point presentations as appropriate, but make sure everything is professional and serious. Likewise, your paper copy should be professional as well. "Nursing" magazine recommends using a simple three-ring binder and clear plastic protectors to divide your documents. A plastic business card page is useful for displaying copies of things like your nursing license and your basic life support card.

Include the Basics

Your portfolio should begin with your basic information, like your name, address, nursing license number and contact numbers. Add a copy of your resume, which should be no more than one page, or a copy of your curriculum vitae, which can be as long as you need it to be to outline your accomplishments, such as recognition for clinical or scholarly work. Which one you choose to include is up to you.

Display Your Knowledge

Your resume will already outline what school you went to and what degrees you've earned. Your portfolio gives you a chance to flesh this out. You can include your transcripts, awards you won, recognition you received and personal references from faculty members. This is also the time to go over professional nursing associations you're a part of, certificates you've earned and volunteer positions you've held. Include a typed outline of any preceptorship or practicum programs you completed along with the dates, locations and notes from your preceptors. Provide a summation of any talks you've given for your hospital unit, class or community groups, along with the dates, locations and what type of talks they were.

Work Experience

Go into detail about the positions you've held and what your duties were. This should include a checklist of nursing competencies you've mastered on the job, your performance evaluations and professional recommendations. Include anything you're especially proud of, like education materials or patient-care plans you've developed, or thank-you notes from patients or families for the care you gave. This is the time to highlight your dedication to your job and to show the progress you've made since you started. Obviously, the longer you've been a nurse, the more this section will grow.