Building Your Portfolio

OVERVIEW

Upon starting Foundation training you open an ePortfolio. At the same time, you will start creating a physical portfolio, which is similar to your CV right now, for the purposes of applying for CT and/or ST positions.

Types of Portfolio

Foundation ePortfolio (Horus ePortfolio):
An online form where you will record various clinical activities and evaluations throughout the year, as per Foundation School guidelines. Your supervisors will be able to see it and fill out evaluation forms for you. You will be fully informed about your ePortfolio, during induction. It is just good to be aware of this. You will keep an online portfolio through every step of your training. The ePortfolio in particular is for Foundation training.

Trust job ePortfolio
The same rules as Horus ePortfolio apply. Again, this would be an electronic platform for your evidence of competencies. Your hospital can help you create one, once you start working there.

Personal Portfolio
This is a folder with evidence of all your amazing achievements. Currently, you may or may not have a CV. The portfolio is like an expanded version of your CV with evidence of every point mentioned. Make sure that you continue to update your CV and that you collect all certificates and attendance records for whatever you do.

If you want to be one step ahead: Search the person specification for the specialty you want to follow, or the requirements for CST or IMT. Structure your portfolio according to their marking scheme. One of the positives of applying to core training programmes in the UK is that you will know exactly how many marks each category gets and what you can do to gain full points.

How to Improve Your Portfolio

The audit process is streamlined in the UK and most medical students can engage in it from early on. In fact, every hospital in Europe engages in some type of audit, or quality improvement project. Practices are always checked against guidelines, so you could engage in an audit at your hospital. Still, it is perhaps easier to start one when you arrive in the UK or do one during a summer placement in the UK.

What better way to know whether you want to work in the UK than trying it out first? Taking a month or a few weeks out of your summer vacations to do an observation placement is bound to look good in your CV and it’s an excellent chance to get to know how the system works and whether you would be actually interested in living and working here. Also, it’s a great opportunity to complete a clinical audit or even engage in a research project. Above all, it shows your commitment to a specialty, and this would give you an advantage for your ST applications.

Any type of teaching, whether local or regional, formal or informal, can count as experience and you should keep records of it. Try to engage in various types of teaching and make sure you take feedback and keep the records for your portfolio. Taking courses about teaching can also improve this section of your portfolio.

Get involved with research as soon as possible. Most positions relish publications, especially first author ones. It is important to show consistent engagement with research activities and participation in publications. Getting published can be a long grueling process so be sure to start early and think ahead.

Aim at having a few poster and oral presentations in your CV. Oral presentations can be on a regional, national or international level and gain different points respectively. Being involved in a research project can be an excellent way to get to present abstracts in conferences and gain max points (e.g. oral presentation at an international conference).

If you’re going to show off this is certainly the place to do it. Any academic or non-academic distinction can count!

This is usually an area that a lot of applicants find tricky. Showing initiative and leading groups or projects would count as leadership skills. This does not need to be in the field of Medicine. Ask your peers and try to get ideas about new projects, or think back to situations where you were the leader of the team, whether that was in a sports’ team or any other project.

You will need to complete certain courses and then should aim at completing a few extra courses, depending on the specialty you want to pursue. If you have not started Foundation training yet, it would make sense to chase some mandatory courses but leave others to be completed during your training. This is because you will receive financial aid from your Foundation School for most courses you want to complete. 

Tip: In general, try to attend courses organised from the Royal College of the specialty you want to pursue. This is likely to get you max points for your application

If you want to pursue a surgical career, we advise you to open a free online surgical logbook to keep track of all the procedures that you observe, assist in or perform. This is always requested in an interview for a surgical training position and the sooner you start the more evidence you will collect. To open a surgical logbook, please visit: Electronic Surgical Logbook Project

Sports and involvement in various groups or organisations (generally, having a life outside medicine) is a desired attribute in most specialty training applications. So while you’re going through these final years of medical school and foundation training, remember to have some fun!

Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA): This is a mandatory exam for all FY1s. FY2 stand-alone doctors will also need to sit the exam. As a graduate from a European medical school you will be applying directly for FY2, so you complete it during your training.  

Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP – Part 1) Exam/ Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS- Intercollegiate MRCS) Exam: These 2 exams consist of different parts and you only need to sit one of them, depending on whether you want to be a medical doctor or a surgeon. You do not need to sit them before specialty training but honestly, most people do. It would be a good idea to start preparing for these exams as soon as possible, doing various question banks that are available out there. The good news is that Part A in both exams is much closer to medical school knowledge than specialty training knowledge. 

Top websites that can help you prepare for both exams include:

This website is not an official UKFPO, GMC or NHS website. It was made by doctors who studied in the EEU and wanted to share their experiences, offer some advice and provide guidance as to where to look and what kind of information you will need to find out on your own. Read more here.

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