How A Nursing Portfolio Can Elevate Your Career


Nursing Careers

Sometimes, if can be difficult to talk about ourselves and brag about our accomplishments. As your nursing career progresses, it may be helpful to keep a record of your journey. A professional portfolio documents your education, skills, professional achievements, and nursing experience. It can be useful to help you advance in your career to show potential employers your skills. 

The Importance Of Keeping A Record Of Your Nursing Career

Think of a nursing portfolio as a collection of career experiences and a visual demonstration of your skills. Portfolios showcase your knowledge, abilities, and progress as an individual, a student, and a professional. They also provide evidence of the competencies and expertise you’ve earned due to previous experiences. It is never too early to start a portfolio. If you are currently a nursing student, now is a good time to start building your portfolio.  

Nursing Professional Portfolio Graphic

What should you include?  Portfolios include essential items like original documents, supporting material, and collateral artifacts that provide evidence of credentials, qualifications, and experience achieved during your career. Depending on your career path, you may include education, employment history, job performance, scholarships, political activism, community service, professional organization involvement, or other valuable attributes that showcase your unique qualifications, expertise, and passion.  

As your career evolves and grows, a portfolio allows you to create an organized, evolving inventory of information. Nurses may organize portfolios in an electronic or hard-copy binder. Whenever you’re looking for a new job or advancing in your current role, your portfolio will be a resource for the hiring manager. Arizona College of Nursing offers career services to all our students that help guide you through the process of building a portfolio. 

Building a nursing portfolio will help you to do the following: 

  1. Keep a record of personal, academic, and professional activities and accomplishments.  
  2. Guide decisions relating to education, training, and professional opportunities.  
  3. Demonstrate learning and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in specific areas.  
  4. Provide detailed examples during performance-based interviews for employment opportunities, scholarships, grants, bonuses, or promotions.  
  5. Reflect on personal growth and development. 
  6. Capture prior experiences, challenges, and life lessons learned for academic or work credits.  

Professional Goals & Nursing School Activities

Every nurse has a unique journey. Your portfolio serves as documentation and reflects your path to a nursing career. Keep in mind portfolios are meant to provide past and present evidence (artifacts) that clearly demonstrate your competence associated with expertise, professional practices, processes, quality, and relationships.  

Your nursing portfolio may 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 aspirations. Always ensure your portfolio is up to date whenever you try to advance your career.  

Additionally, your portfolio may help give others insight into your passion, attitude, and nursing approach. This section can include letters of appreciation, letters of recommendation, meaningful pictures, newspaper or newsletter publications, and other artifacts that display your professional history. While this section may seem arbitrary, nurses should be kind, fair, caring, and able to practice emotional stability, empathy, and compassion. Demonstrating that you’re all the above can significantly impact the hiring decision-making process at hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities.   

You may be wondering how and when to use a nursing portfolio. Start getting in the habit of adding to your portfolio in nursing school. Building your nursing portfolio can showcase your skills and can help you land that first job when you don’t have much work experience.  Throughout your career, use your professional nursing portfolio for continuing education, professional development, and educational or employment goals.  

For example, a nurse may utilize an up-to-date nursing portfolio when interviewing for a new job, discussing a promotion, applying for an appointed position in a regulatory agency, offering to serve as a board member in a professional nursing organization or even running for political office. In short, your nursing portfolio can come in handy at any point in your career.  

Nursing Portfolio Checklist

Use this quick checklist to help ensure you do not forget anything in your professional nursing portfolio.  Of course, you can customize your portfolio to correlate with your unique nursing journey, but every nursing portfolio should include the following:

  1. Name, Demographics, Health Records  
  2. Education, License(s), Certification(s) 
  3. CPR/BLS/ACLS/ATLS/PALS/NALS Cards  
  4. CEU Certificates 
  5. Professional Organization Membership(s) 
  6. Nursing Philosophy 
  7. Committees, Professional Projects 
  8. Annual Performance Appraisal 
  9. Professional Awards, Achievements  
  10. Scholarly Publications  
  11. Appreciation Letters (Supervisors, Peers, Patients) 
  12. Future Career Goals 

Nursing is career path that is constantly evolving. Keeping a portfolio means you have a record that can showcase your skills and accomplishments. If you are interested in pursuing a nursing career, the first step is enrolling in nursing school. Contact an advisor at: (855)706-8382 or visit: arizonacollege.edu to learn more. 

nursing school faculty B. HalleAuthored by Barbara Halle, DNP, MSN, NPD, RN-BC 

Sr. Director of Nursing Regularity Affairs 

Arizona College of Nursing