Professional 1956 Bloom et al devised “a taxonomy

Professional portfolios are
an essential resource for nurses to record their developing skills and
knowledge as they progress in their career, and are equally vital for staff
nurses. The key to compiling a strong portfolio is knowing what constitutes
meaningful evidence of their achievements, and how to structure one to best
represent their professional and personal development. This applies equally
whether the portfolio is being used to record career development or learning on
an academic course. The portfolio needs to reflect the nurse’s approach to
patients, their growing skills in meeting patients’ needs, the rationale for
their care, and how they work alongside other healthcare professionals and

Regardless of the reason for
producing a portfolio, the principles and processes are similar. Scholes et al
(2004) define a portfolio as something that: “captures learning from
experience, enables an assessor to measure student learning, acts as a tool for
reflective thinking, illustrates critical analysis skills and evidence of self
directed learning and provides a collection of detailed evidence of a person’s

This definition can equally
apply to portfolios used to reflect professional development and staff job
performance. Coffey (2005) suggests the collated evidence provides a “series of
snapshots” over time, which represent an individual’s experiences and learning
from and about practice.

A portfolio is therefore not
just a description of care activities. It needs to demonstrate learning from a
range of care experiences. This is not always obvious, and can be missed when
giving everyday care. Also, some learning occurs at a subconscious level – from
being socialised into the nursing role and through role modelling professional
colleagues’ practice.

Competence has been defined
in many ways. A commonly used formula identifies the attitudes, skills and
knowledge needed to act professionally (Neary, 2001).  As early as 1956
Bloom et al devised “a taxonomy of learning objectives”. The objectives were
based on the three domains of attitudes, skills and knowledge, and defined
different levels of learning within each one.  This formula is still
relevant and each domain has a particular focus.