Job Search Tips February 2, 2022

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

How to Create a Winning Nurse Portfolio

Want to showcase all the hard work that you’ve put into your nursing career? Create a nurse portfolio.

While writers and artists are known for creating portfolios of their professional work, the concept may be less familiar in the area of nursing. It’s the same basic concept, but a nursing portfolio highlights your training and achievements as a healthcare professional.

Create a winning nurse portfolio

It’s a trend that seems to be gaining some momentum for nurses, and you might want to jump on board—whether you are seeking a new nursing job, campaigning for a promotion or considering a more dramatic career change.

Even those considering travel nursing can benefit from building a portfolio as they prepare to work with a recruiter.

What to include in your nurse portfolio

The exact contents that you can include in a nurse portfolio may vary, depending on which expert you consult. But here are some elements that are often recommended:

  • A title page or cover letter
  • A biography page
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Professional licensure and certifications
  • Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Examples of research you’ve conducted or work that you’ve published
  • Performance evaluations
  • Professional memberships and activities in those organizations
  • Letters of recommendation or appreciation

“The nursing portfolio might also contain an evolving career plan that includes professional goals and objectives of professional and educational nursing activities to support professional development and achievement of career aspiration,” said Barbara Halle, DNP, MSN, NPD RN-BC, senior director of nursing regulatory affairs for the Arizona College of Nursing.

How a nurse portfolio can give you an edge

Why create a nurse portfolio? Having a polished and professional portfolio could give you an advantage if you’re looking for a new nursing job. A hiring manager can get a good sense of your qualifications from viewing your portfolio, and it might convince him or her to interview you. Or if you’re eager to get a promotion at work, a portfolio can highlight all your qualifications and show why you’re deserving.

For example, say you’re eager to take on a new job in an emergency department, and you’re trying to figure out how to stand out among the other applicants. A great portfolio could make the difference, said Janie Schumaker, MBA, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHQ, FABC, CEO for the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), and immediate past-president of the American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS).

“A well-crafted nursing portfolio give nurses a competitive edge because they can powerfully showcase their worth, value and experience, be that key courses and essential certificates for newer nurses or board certifications such as those offered by BCEN for more seasoned nurses,” Schumaker added.

And anyone can benefit from having a portfolio, not just job seekers or promotion seekers. Halle noted that you might be interested in applying to be a board member of a nonprofit organization or regulatory agency or run for an office, and your portfolio can highlight your credentials.

“The nurse can distribute sections of the portfolio or provide electronic access to the portfolio as an organized, easy method to display qualifications, credentials, expertise, professional performance and passion,” she said.

Make your portfolio really shine

If you’re putting together a nursing portfolio and are worried that it seems a little sparse, don’t fret. You can always take steps to boost your career--and then add those items to your portfolio later. For example, if you haven’t already done so, consider getting certified in your specialty area.

Specialty certification provides a mechanism for the nurse to validate their knowledge and skills and therefore position themselves for appropriate recognition, advancement, and a critical sense of confidence and achievement,” noted Cindi Noe, MSN, RN, certification practice specialist with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

For example, critical care nurses might be interested in pursuing the AACN’s new COVID-19 micro-credential, to showcase their advanced preparation in caring for critically ill COVID patients. Meanwhile, emergency nurses might consider pursuing the BCEN EDvantage certificate program.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help in putting together the various elements of your portfolio, if you need it. Endrea Kosven says that the company she founded, WeWriteBios.com, has always worked with nurses to help them create polished biographies to highlight their career achievements.

“But I would say the demand began increasing right after the pandemic started,” she said. “We also started seeing more requests from nurses starting their own practices as well, and even those going into specialty fields such as aesthetic/cosmetic nursing and psychiatric nursing.”

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