Discussion: Strategies for Academic Portfolios NURS 6003
Discussion: Strategies for Academic Portfolios
To achieve our goals in life we must be passionate and hard working. What defines a hard worker though and how can we do that? When we work toward our goals, we must have a plan and map out the milestones we want to complete. Professional and academic success are gained when we have a plan and part of that plan is building a portfolio of achievements. My success plan is first geared around my academic achievements. I applied for this graduate degree with Walden in hopes of successfully finishing all my courses and achieving my goal of becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). One of the ways in which I can make this goal happen is to develop a portfolio of achievements. This portfolio can be done electronically and should contain all the necessary information to supplement one’s resume. Burns (2018) explains that a portfolio should contain experience, skills, academic achievements and be structed in a way that will guide the individual toward success. This e-portfolio is a map and guide that motivates us and leads us toward the direction of our goals.
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As a graduate degree student, I have an e-portfolio that has been in progress since I started my nursing studies a few years back. As I continue to grow in my education and advance in my career, I continue to add to this e-portfolio. This portfolio contains my degrees, continuing education, certifications, awards, work experience, volunteer experience, license information, and any letters of recommendation I have. I make sure I keep all this information well organized as dates are important and keeping licensing current is imperative. Davis (2015) states that a portfolio is an excellent way to showcase our achievements and have it readily available. Actively keeping a portfolio instills inspiration and fuel to continue to work toward our goals. Every time I open my portfolio, it is lovely to see a lot of my accomplishments in one place. This makes me want to achieve more. With technology, we have everything we need a few clicks away. I will continue to keep my portfolio well organized and up to date because I know I will need it in the near future. I am excited to continue my studies, grow with knowledge, and complete this program in order to become a successful PMHNP.
Burns, M. K. (2018). Creating a Nursing Portfolio. Ohio Nurses Review, 93(3), 16-17.
Davis, C. (2015). Developing a professional nursing portfolio : Nursing made Incredibly Easy. LWW.https://journals.lww.com/nursingmadeincrediblyeasy/Fulltext/2015/01000/Developing_a_professional_nursing_portfolio.1.aspx.
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Academic and Professional Portfolios
Developing a plan and career path can be challenging as well as piecing together all the things you have accomplished along your professional journey. Nursing is a career path that I chose but developed a true plan but had a goal to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner hoping to make a difference. As I progress into a more professional role there are different tools and skills that will aid in my growth and ability to succeed. One tool that can be used is a professional or academic portfolio. Portfolios are used by many professions including nursing to highlight an individual’s accomplishments, credentials, education, and experience. Academic portfolios can display a student’s outcomes learned, knowledge obtained, and clinical skills achieved while allowing others to evaluate their progress (Pearson et al., p.15). According to Burns (2018) nursing portfolios can be used to show clinical skills, help represent yourself for a promotion and should be conducted often to self-reflect for personal enhancement (p.16-17). In addition, professional portfolios also utilized through technology as e-portfolios are a wonderful way to show future employers your competencies, achievements, and areas of expertise.
Strategies to Developing and Maintaining a Portfolio
As a nurse scholar being able to develop an effective portfolio will allow me an opportunity to present achievements and growth as a professional. In addition, Walden University will add current skills and knowledge to my professional practice. Nursing is a career path that has opened doors for me to be a part of great organizations, participate in community enrichment programs, and give back to my local church family. I am currently apart of the Black Nurses Rock organization, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Faith to Feed, and act as a member of the healthcare team at church. Secondly, I can increase my knowledge through maintaining my certifications as a CPR instructor, occupational health nurse, and obtain certification as a holistic provider. These certifications, experience in my current practice, education obtained, and active membership are all accomplished that can be documented through e-portfolio to represent me as a professional.
Making a Change
My vision as an advanced practice nurse is to become a PMHNP provider to develop a program that includes housing, education, and treatment for individuals who suffer with mental illness. The need to improve care and access as well as remove stereotypes related to mental health is what drives me to complete my educational goals. In addition, there is room for growth regarding collaboration and developing partnerships with local officials, police departments, and educators to meet the needs of psychiatric patients. The lack of culturally competent care and education remains evident in our communities where health disparities pose a significant impact on such a vulnerable population. According to Pearson et al. (2015) psychiatric nurses are leaders who can contribute to the change initiated by the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (2003) and improve quality of care among mental health patients (p.15).
Geraldine S. Pearson, Vicki P. Hines-Martin, Lois K. Evans, Janet A. York, Catherine F. Kane, Edilma L. Yearwood, Addressing Gaps in Mental Health Needs of Diverse, At-Risk, Underserved, and Disenfranchised Populations: A Call for Nursing Action, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 14-18, ISSN 0883-9417, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2014.09.004.
Professional development is a concept for career-based nurses. In professional development, nurses take the steps necessary to advance their practice through education, volunteering, networking, attending seminars, and gaining credentials. Nurses should keep a portfolio to document their achievements to market themselves for professional organizations and jobs in professional development. Portfolios are a way of charting your progress and achievements in nursing. According to an article by Margaret Burns (2018), there are two different types of portfolios, one that showcases the nurse’s specific achievements and another that is broader than documents everything the nurse has accomplished. A specified portfolio of accomplishment is more conducive for job and professional organization applications, while the more common portfolio keeps track of the nurse’s clinical, educational, and volunteer experiences (p. 15).
For my undergraduate degree, a nursing portfolio was required to be completed before graduating. I constructed my portfolio on a website and included my background, current nursing position, future goals, and artifacts from each of my courses that people who reviewed my portfolio could read. I have used this portfolio during interviews, especially for travel nursing agencies, because it encompasses all of my time and experiences as a nurse.
Travel Nursing Experience
My first strategy for building a sound portfolio is to document my experience as a nurse. To do this, I have joined a travel nursing agency to become a temporary nurse at different facilities. I have a background in medical-surgical, intermediate, and critical care nursing so that I can float between these three disciplines at various facilities. This will help articulate my vast experience as a nurse when I become a nurse practitioner and apply for a job. Each hospital organization is set up differently, so I will learn their competencies, nursing workflow, and different management styles of disease processes. In future practice, I will be able to use these skills when I manage a patient’s plan of care. An article by Jan Daubener (2001) provides anecdotes from different travel nurses to explain the pros and cons of the career field. One account from a nurse demonstrated their increased competency and comfort level managing critical drips and ventilators in an ICU that differed from their home unit. As such, the nurse was adaptable and learned the processes at the new hospital he traveled to and was successful. As a result, he gained more experience and comfort level handling a different management style and could use this knowledge in future travel contracts. Traveling to new agencies means that I will have to be comfortable with not knowing everything and adapt quickly to new situations. This measurement of self-assessment relates to a critical aspect of nursing portfolio development.
In an article by Casey and Egan (2010):
Evidence used within the portfolio can be used to undertake a personal review of where a practitioner currently is in terms of their development and consider where they want to be. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis can be a simple but useful tool to analyze professional strengths, skills, knowledge, and ability) and weaknesses (areas for development.) These can then be considered in the context of the opportunities for development and the potential threats or barriers to development (p. 550).
Travel nursing will require me to constantly assess my current knowledge and experience level, narrow down what I need to improve, and then reflect on what I have learned. This skill will be used constantly in my future practice as a nurse practitioner.
My next strategy for constructing a solid portfolio of my nursing practice is to gain credentials or competencies in my chosen practice area. Currently, I am pursuing a specialization in acute care practice for adults and geriatrics. My eventual goal is to work as a nurse practitioner in endocrinology and diabetes management. One specific nursing credential I am actively trying to achieve is certified diabetes educator (CDE). This is awarded to nurses who have the required amount of hours managing and counseling patients on diabetes and successfully passing the proctored exam. If I have this credential, it will represent my interest and passion for diabetes management and supply me with the knowledge necessary to make critical decisions when managing this disease. According to an article presented on the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (2019), certified nurses gain more respect, possess increased knowledge and competency, have more job opportunities, are more reliable and make fewer errors, decrease healthcare costs, and provide better patient outcomes, (pp. 2-3). By gaining a credential, shows my commitment to the profession and drive to advance my knowledge.
My strategies to obtain my goals of nursing excellence relate to Walden University’s social change initiative. According to Walden University (2021), “ …Walden supports positive social change through the development of principled, knowledgeable, and ethical scholar-practitioners, who are and will become civic and professional role models by advancing the betterment of society” (para. 6). My experience from different nursing facilities and my credentials from my CDE exam will allow me to have an advanced perspective on nursing. I will have more knowledge and experience caring for patients, be more credible based on my certifications, and be able to transition into the nurse practitioner role where I can use my knowledge to act ethically and advance the health of my community, thus creating positive social change.
Nurses use professional portfolios to showcase the critical aspects of their career journey as proof for career development. A strong portfolio will give a background of nursing experience, education level, credentials, and letters of recommendation so that employers and professional organizations can assess the nurse’s abilities. By gaining expertise from travel nursing and achieving certifications, I can add these to my portfolio as evidence of my nursing expertise to eventually create positive social change.
American Association of Neuroscience Nurses. (2019). Impact of nursing certification on nurses, healthcare employers and patients [PDF]. American association of neuroscience nurses. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://aann.org/uploads/Meetings/2020/WhitePaper_ACU_Certification.pdf
Burns, M. K. (2018). Creating a nursing portfolio. Ohio Nurses Review, 93(3), 16–17. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://doi.org/https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=5&sid=4ee231f2-c0ff-440a-9d82-4c18e2e9ee28%40sessionmgr102
Casey, D., & Egan, D. (2010). The use of professional portfolios and profiles for career enhancement. British Journal of Community Nursing, 15(11), 547–552. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from
Daubener, J. (2001). A look at travel nursing: Two sides to the coin. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 27(5), 507–510. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://doi.org/10.1067/men.2001.118574
Walden University. (2021). Mission, vision, and goals. Walden University catalog. Retrieved 2021, from https://catalog.waldenu.edu/content.php?catoid=181&navoid=66193