Posted by: Helen Middleton18 AUG 2014
I started to build my portfolio in June 2013 shortly after the RPS Faculty was launched. The first thing I needed to do was decide what to include in my portfolio because I had gathered a lot of evidence over the previous 10 years in my specialist area (Education, Training & Development).
Four stages of portfolio building have been described: Shopping trolley, toast rack, spinal column and cake mix. The RPS Faculty requires a spinal column type of portfolio where evidence is mapped to competencies within the Advanced Pharmacy Framework (APF). However, I had a collection of evidence with no structure, so my portfolio was at the shopping trolley stage. My first step was to identify the best offers in my shopping trolley (to include in my portfolio); examples that can map to multiple competencies can be thought of as ‘buy one get one free’! It was important to use examples of achievements I was most proud of and which showed my highest levels of practice. I aimed to have at least 2 pieces of evidence for each of the APF competencies so that if the assessors didn’t think one of my examples was good enough I had another one in the bag. In total my portfolio contained 37 pieces of evidence and most pieces of evidence mapped to 3 or 4 competencies.
My next step was to navigate my way around the RPS e-portfolio so I could record my evidence. I watched the short online video clip and read the RPS APF Framework guide and handbook and ‘Your Portfolio Quick Reference Guide’. Then I took the plunge and recorded my first portfolio entry which was about an article I had written for Clinical Pharmacist about portfolio building. I chose this because it was a specific piece of work that I found easy to map to a couple of competencies within the APF. Then I decided to make an entry about a major project that I had led which I mapped to multiple competencies across all of the APF clusters. The rationale for this was that all of my other entries would fall between these two extremes. The more entries I made the more I gained confidence in building my portfolio.
I found it really useful to buddy up with peers who were building their portfolios at the same time as me. We were able to share our experiences, provide support for each other and critique each others entries. We looked at each others’ evidence and gave feedback on whether we thought it was clear to an assessor who didn’t know us or our practice. This is a form of peer mentorship where two or more colleagues support each others development. Everyone I spoke to was taking a slightly different approach which goes to show that there is no right or wrong way to build the portfolio. However the most important thing is to describe clearly how you meet the developmental descriptors in the APF when completing the ‘impact’ statements. I submitted my portfolio in the ‘first wave’ of assessments and achieved recognition as a Fellow of the RPS Faculty.