Everyone working in the ED should have an eportfolio. Whether you want to be an emergency physician or not, that is irrelevant. What is relevant and important is that your time is important and the time you spend (invest?) in a certain post, however long that may be, is valuable. You should be able to gain as much as you can from the experience, and not just have the experience to show for it, but should also be able to prove what your capabilities are.

What is a portfolio? It is essentially you, on paper. What you amount to, what your skill set is, what your experiences are, and what you will potentially bring to the table if they should hire you or atleast select you for an interview. So what does your CV show? Would you hire yourself if someone with your CV applied for this position?

The world is changing. It used to be that just putting on your CV that you have worked at this grand post for 3 years and 7 months, looks and sounds impressive (probably is!) but nowadays, it may not amount to anything. I have said this elsewhere as well, and I reiterate: if you have performed 500 intubations in your past experience as an anesthetic registrar, but have no formal paperwork showing your skill, proving that you are indeed capable of this feat, then you will never be considered superior or more valuable than, let’s say someone who has done 15, but is able to prove all of those with nicely signed off competencies for each one. Your CV will often be the judging point that decides whether or not someone likes you enough to consider interviewing you. If your CV doesn’t cut it, you won’t ever get a chance to come face to face with someone who you may need to impress with your skill.

So take your time, build up your CV. If you are in a non training, trust grade job; it doesn’t pay well, you are unhappy with the hours; make it a priority to get as many competencies signed off as you can. Whether there is a dislocated or fractured joint that you manipulated back into its anatomical position, or whether it is the skill of passing an IV line in an infant; whether it is asking for a colleague feedback from a nurse you have worked with, or whether it is an audit you did with a consultant, ask yourself: how does this get into my portfolio? You could just print out the findings from your audit and add it to your portfolio, but would it not look better if you were to get that same consultant who you did the audit with to sign you off and give his/her opinion regarding your role in the audit, and assess you on its various aspects? ePortfolios come with generic forms that assess all sorts of skills, including some of the ones mentioned above.  And because they are generic, they can be utilized universally. If you are competent to perform arterial blood gases in ED, and get signed off for it, and you end up in let’s say, gynaecology, the competency and skill remains the same; you can utilise evidence from your eportfolio to showcase your skill.

So don’t waste your time, your experience in any post is of value to the department you are in, but you should also make sure you tap into that value and are able to utilise that to maximise the benefits to yourself. There is no shame in asking for an assessment, or for feedback; just get their email address, most are only too happy to comply. Otherwise you will find yourself at the end of a 3 year 7 month placement, with nothing but a start and an end date to signify your progress in that post, and that is all it will ever be: a start and an end date. Make sure that does not happen to you.

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