Background: The use of portfolios can potentially provide flexibility in the summative assessment of doctors in practice. An assessment system should reflect and reinforce the active and planned professional development goals of individual doctors. This paper discusses some of the issues involved in developing such a system.
Results: To provide a complete picture of an individual doctor's practice, we suggest that a portfolio should encompass: (1) evidence covering all three domains of patient care, personal development and context management; (2) evidence that the person continuously undertakes critical assessment of their own performance, identifies and prioritises areas requiring enhanced performance and takes action to improve them as appropriate; (3) evidence that has been generated by assessments that are acceptably reliable, and (4) evidence which, taken in its entirety, is sufficient, valid, current and authentic. We include a suggested outline of the components of such a portfolio and suggest some criteria to determine the effectiveness of learning cycles. Portfolio reliability and validity requires sufficient evidence on which to base a judgement combined with reliable processes.
Conclusion: Carefully specified portfolios can contribute to a system that ensures all doctors take an active part in identifying and meeting their own learning needs. Such a system, if properly implemented, would have a greatly beneficial impact on continuous quality improvement for the profession in general.