Junior doctors' guide to portfolio learning and building

Clin Teach. 2012 Oct;9(5):308-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-498X.2012.00544.x.


Background: A portfolio is a collection of evidence supporting an individual's achievement of competencies and learning outcomes. The material included in the portfolio must be reflected upon, as reflection provides the evidence that learning has taken place.

Context: Portfolio learning is important for two principal reasons: assessment of the trainee, and for lifelong learning and reflection. The ability of a portfolio to be used for both summative and formative assessment makes it a flexible and robust assessment method. A portfolio also demonstrates reflection and lifelong learning abilities. Reflective learning is key to postgraduate medical education: it is part of both the Foundation Programme curriculum and General Medical Council guidance on best practice.

Innovation: To ensure correct learning outcomes are identified and evidenced, the curriculum programme must be referred to and an educational supervisor should be consulted. Once identified, it is necessary to: identify how these outcomes can be met (learning needs); decide what needs to be done to meet these needs; reflect on what has been done; and evidence what has been done in the portfolio. Evidence could include written feedback, certificates of course completion, online learning modules, etc.

Implications: A learning portfolio is a necessary tool for every postgraduate medical trainee. The portfolio serves to record and evidence all learning that has taken place, and thereon acts as a guide for future learning needs. The key process to portfolio building and learning is the provision of evidence by reflecting upon the learning that has taken place.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*