Before you even begin applying to jobs you’ll definitely want to make sure to have your resume and credentials in order so that you can be prepared to show employers what sets you apart from the rest. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a professional nursing portfolio.
What is a Nursing Portfolio?
A professional nursing portfolio is a bit different from your resume, which simply outlines your educational background and employment history. Nursing portfolios go more in-depth and provide potential employers with a breakdown of your nursing experience, skills, and professional accomplishments. Some nurses start creating their nursing portfolio while in school and develop it over time as they grow professionally.
A nursing portfolio is great to have as a new graduate looking for your first job, but you will also use yours throughout your professional career. A well put together nursing portfolio can help with promoting yourself for job opportunities and at continuing education interviews. Because it provides a one-stop-shop for all of your professional experience as a nurse, it can make it a lot easier for potential employers or future educators to see all of your accomplishments and skills in one place.
Most people use a three-ring binder to create their nursing portfolio, but it is recommended that you store a digital copy on your computer somewhere as well. There are a variety of important components of a professional nursing portfolio, including a cover page, table of contents, resume, and contact information. Below, we’ll break down every step you need to take to create your professional nursing portfolio.
How to Create Your Nursing Portfolio Cover Page
The cover page of your professional nursing portfolio is an important part, since it will be the first page that your potential employer will see. You’ll want to place your name, credentials, and important contact information (such as your phone number and email address) on the cover. If you have a professional headshot that you’d like to include, this can be helpful as well but isn’t required. Some nurses like to get more creative with their cover page by adding a stylish font and colorful design, but this is totally up to you. A simple cover page will go a long way as well. You’ll just want to make sure that you provide the necessary information. Look online to see if you can find a portfolio cover template if you’re having a hard time putting yours together.
Simply create a Word document on your computer to type out your cover page. Use a large font for the title and try to get everything to fit in a proportional way. You can easily add in images and graphics where needed as well.
How to Create a Professional Nursing Portfolio: A Step-by-Step Guide
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to create a nursing portfolio. However, there are some helpful steps to keep in mind when creating yours.
- Start by getting a three-ring binder to hold all of the information for your portfolio. You’ll also want to plan on having a digital backup of your nursing portfolio.
- Create an outline of the information you’d like to include in your portfolio. It is up to you what you include, so you’ll want to take some time to reflect on what feels most important to you. Consider all of the challenges you’ve overcome as a nurse and some of your accomplishments thus far. Obviously, newer nurses won’t have as much to add as experienced nurses, but you can also use any of the skills or knowledge you gained in nursing school.
- Start by creating word documents in your computer that break down each page of your portfolio including the cover page, table of contents, and your resume (we’ll share more information further down about what exactly to include in your portfolio).
- Once all of your pages are typed up (make sure to proofread everything!) print them out and place them in your binder. You may want to have your pages printed at a local office supply store so that you can use higher quality paper, rather than just using typical printer paper.
- Keep the digital version of all of your portfolio pages stored safely on your computer and back them up to an external hard drive if you’d like to. Over time, you can add to your portfolio as you gain further experience as a nurse.
General Outline of a Nursing Portfolio
Although the information that you place in your nursing portfolio is entirely up to you, there is some general information that you should make sure to include, including a table of contents, your resume, contact information, educational background and any licensure information. Some nurses choose to include an essay in which they share their personal values and how they relate to the field of nursing. You can also include your CPR certification information and any additional nursing certifications that you have. Your nursing portfolio is also a great place to store any letters of recommendation that you’ve accumulated over the years. Here is a general outline of what to include in your professional nursing portfolio:
- Cover page
- Table of contents
- Value statement or personal essay stating your values as a nurse
- Your resume
- Contact information including phone number, email address, name, and address
- Health and immunization records
- Educational information including your type of degree and name of your university.
- A copy of your nursing license
- Proof of any nursing certifications including BLS certification, ACLS certification, etc. Make sure to include the renewal dates as well.
- A description of any of your work experience as a nurse. If you’re a new graduate, you could use this section to share any clinical experience that you gained throughout nursing school.
- Any academic accomplishments including research projects or academic awards you’ve received.
- Professional development such as in-services or conferences that you’ve attended as well as professional organizations you’re involved in, with supporting documentation.
- A summary of any community service or outreach projects you’ve completed.
- Recommendation letters and/or performance evaluations.
This is simply a general outline of what should be included in your nursing portfolio, so it isn’t at all necessary to include all of this information. It is best to make sure that you have the necessary information in your portfolio (such as your contact information and resume) then add whatever you feel sets you apart from other candidates. Remember that newer nurses will not have nearly as much to add to their portfolio as a more experienced nurse and this is entirely okay. You will quickly gain plenty of nursing experience once you start your first job and your portfolio will evolve as you do.
How to Organize Your Nursing Portfolio Binder
You’ll definitely want to take some time to carefully organize your professional nursing portfolio and make sure it is easy to flip through and navigate. You can use dividers with tabs to separate each section and make sure that your table of contents accurately reflects what is inside of your nursing portfolio binder. Also, try to order things in a sensible way, such as placing your most recent work experience first, and so on.
How to Use a Nursing Portfolio When Job Searching
Have your nursing portfolio closely available whenever you are applying for jobs so that you can have all of your professional information easily available to you. You can also bring your portfolio along for any job interviews to show to potential employers. Many nurses use their nursing portfolio as supporting documentation when applying for graduate school and other continuing education opportunities.
Although having a professional nursing portfolio is not at all required, it is incredibly helpful and beneficial for job applications, interviews, and for applying to graduate school. Your nursing portfolio will serve as a nicely organized resource where you can easily reference all of your professional documents and work history. This can make applying for jobs and preparing for interviews easy and it can help you stand out from other candidates.
What you include in your nursing portfolio is entirely up to you, but you’ll definitely want to include your work history, nursing skills, and any other relevant work experience that you have gained over the years. If you’re a new graduate, don’t let this stop you from creating a nursing portfolio. Even if your work experience is scarce, you can include the skills you gained from nursing school and your portfolio is sure to evolve overtime as you grow and learn as a nurse.