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I have to admit, I’m not really a fan of the NHS eportfolio. I’ve yet to meet a junior doctor who is. Throughout our busy working lives, the portfolio looms above us all like a sinister cloud gathering on the horizon. We may try to ignore it, but it’s always there, demanding to be attended to.
Having successfully forgotten about mine for a month or two, I have spent the last couple of weeks playing catch-up. I know that what I should be doing is working away steadily throughout the year, adding bits here and there, crafting the perfect virtual model of my experience and achievements - but on top of my clinical work, studying for exams and trying to have some sort of life outside medicine, I just can’t find the motivation most of the time.
I can see why we’re supposed to do it. The NHS is a huge, complicated organisation and there are an awful lot of doctors - it’s a standardised tool to track and assess us, an objective record to measure everyone against.
Clearly trainees need to be able to show evidence of certain competencies, such as procedures. The portfolio can even be motivational in this regard – because you know what you have to get signed off, you seek out every opportunity for that crucial ‘DOPS’, even raiding other wards and specialties if you have to.
Anonymous feedback from multi-disciplinary colleagues in the form of ‘TAB’s and ‘MSF’ can highlight difficulties at an early stage, or provide reassurance and a bit of a fillip.
But there are so many things that drive me mad about it.
For a start, it’s seriously overcomplicated. Every time I get an attack of conscience or some free time and decide to do some more on mine, I have to work out all over again exactly what’s required of me – how many of each type of assessment I need in what timeframe, and who can sign which of them, and what I need to link with what in the ‘library’ or the curriculum.
Then there’s the unpleasantness of hassling people for assessments – other busy people with plenty of their own stuff to do. And the disappointment and indignation when they don’t bother to fill them in.
Personally, the cryptic terminology annoys me - a ‘supervised learning event’ sounds like it might refer to some sort of glorified school outing. But I suppose they have to call it something.
I think what I dislike most of all is the requirement to submit ‘reflections’. Don’t get me wrong, I think doctors should be reflective and thoughtful in the way they work – and there’s so much that’s interesting and challenging to reflect on. I just can’t do it properly within the constraints of those little grey boxes with their prescriptive headings.
Unfortunately, being forced to ‘reflect’ in the portfolio seems to have turned many of my colleagues off reflection completely. When you have to do something, especially as part of a long list of things to be ticked off, there’s a danger of losing the sense of its intrinsic value. Cynicism tends to prevail.
There’s no getting around it though, I’m going to have to knuckle down now and do some portfolio. I have to get some more of those boxes ticked.
By the Secret Doctor. Read more experiences at the Secret Doctor blog and follow on Twitter
Does your portfolio serve its purpose? Use the comments section below
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