Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Wherefore Art Thou Portfolio

Tomorrow I meet with the dean at my hospital to review my portfolio. Along with most of my colleagues, my portfolio is something which tends to get neglected until shortly before its due to be reviewed. We've had the idea of a portfolio hammered into us since we started medical school but particularly in the clinical years. I was going to describe exactly what a portfolio is, or is supposed to be, but I can't. I don't really know. I mean sure, I get that its supposes to be a record of your progression, your achievements, your reflection and all that but I'm still not entirely sure what this is made up of. I quite enjoy reflective writing (never thought I'd hear myself say that), that is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging - not that I often do much deep reflection here but you get the idea.

So I'm wondering what else should I put in my portfolio. Perhaps I should just print out my blog although I don't think that would go down too well. Some of my posts might be useful though. Fortunately today is my 'study day' so I've got plenty of time to get my portfolio in order, although saying that its already 11:00 and I've got a million and one other jobs to do today. I will do a SWOT analysis, for those of you who don't know, that is a breakdown of my Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. That should be interesting, perhaps I'll share it over at the real little medic.

My portfolio meeting could go one of two ways, it could be an easy half hour chat where I don't approach anything controversial, or it could be a half our discussion about what I really think, I've yet to decide which way to take it. A few people seem to think the dean is a bit scared of me (well not scared, so much as, apprehensive), mainly because back in 3rd year my portfolio meeting (usually strictly half an hour) took an hour as I had a list of things to talk about so long that he never even looked at my portfolio.

I actually think these portfolio meetings are rather important for a couple of reasons. Firstly there is the portfolio, nobody likes to admit it but its a fairly important aspect of being a medic, nurse or anyone else really. Its particularly relevant to medical students and doctors as reflective writing is key to the 'white box' application forms used throughout nowadays. And IF you ever finally get to be interviewed, its always useful to have a good, up-to-date, polished portfolio. More importantly as a medical student, these meetings give us individual time with the dean to express our concerns, feelings, thoughts and worries. I think this is a very important aspect of life as a medical student - but hey, maybe its just me.

I really like the dean at my hospital. Unlike every member of staff I've ever come across affiliated with the university (no offence PHD Scientist - I've never come across you so you don't count) he is actually willing to listen and empathise. He might not be able to offer a solution to things but he'll certainly let you rant away at him (at least he lets me). Sure he has his own peculiarities but don't we all? I know some people don't like him because of this, but I think he's a genuinely nice guy.

Any suggestions for portfolio material are welcome...


Pro et Contra Medic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dr_dyb said...

So are you at the same hospital for 3 years? Nice! We in attachment years (4 & 5) get sent to a new hospital every 5 weeks which can (with some judicious swapping) allow you to visit every hospital in the West of Scotland!! However whilst you may visit a hospital more than once, it will be in a different specialty etc.

How does this work for Psych and Kids, which tend to be separate to teaching Medical/Surgical hospitals up here.

Esme said...

I met the Dean back in October. And I agree with you, he seems like a really nice guy- generally a mix between fair, eccentrict, and intimidating. Told us that he forms first impressions very quickly, that he liked active listeners and people who smiled, and that at his first week there many many years ago, he had learn that the laudary ladies were far more important than cosultants, and their stike caused the hospital to grind to a halt.

PhD scientist said...

Think you're right about not just printing out the blogs, but I would suggest a re-read of your world tour/ elective ones in pursuit of a "what did I get out of / learn all that?"... Plenty of good portfolio material there, surely?

Re. your experiences with the teaching staff, clinical academics and hospital doctors are very busy folk. I suspect some of the apparent "non-listening" is just that people are pressed for time. It is also, though, a sad fact that being a good teacher doesn't really do wonders for your career as an academic, whether clinical or non-clinical - certainly not by comparison with running a high-powered research programme and raising lots of external funding. Finally, one could argue that medical academia is actually less "people-facing" than being a full-time clinician, so might actively select those with less interest in humans and their lives, rather than interesting genetic syndromes. But I must say I think the ever-increasing time and student numbers pressure has been a major factor over my years in the biz. When you only have a few students to deal with, and have spare time, it is relatively easy to be interested and sympathetic. When you have, say four PBL / tutorial groups worth to look after, and twenty other urgent tasks piling up, it is a bigger "ask". C'est la vie, sadly.

Michael said...

Portfolio suggestions:

1. KitKat Addictions and Me: My New Year's Resolution

2. Wetherspoons and Debit Cards: Reflection on customer service

3. PBL: Opportunity to Shine

The Shrink said...

Royal Colleges can have very detailed content on postgraduate training grade doctors' portfolios, I'm totally clueless 'bout what an undergraduate's portfolio should look like!

PhD scientist said...

From my 1st and 2nd yr teacher's perspective, Shrink, I suspect all this portfolio stuff really looks for "anything that suggests the person thinks / can think / has thought about the wider context of the path they are taking and the job they are studying to do".

A list of things done helps to give a timeline but I would guess more to start the conversation "and how was that different..." etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Its's worse now. They've got portfolio straight off from 1st year onwards. It's the first year so we've been guinea pigs and they haven't had a clue how to do it. I've been lucky in that the guy my group meets to discuss has been very attentive and one of few who have attended all the meetings suggested by the school.