Professional performance. Coffey (2005) suggests the collated evidence

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 agencies.

Regardless of
the reason for producing a portfolio, the principles and processes are similar.
Scholes J, Webb C, Gray M, Endacott R, Miller C, Jasper
M, McMullan M (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 competence.”

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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.