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Are learning portfolios worth the effort? Yes

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 11 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a513
  1. Erik Driessen, assistant professor
  1. 1Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  1. e.driessen{at}

    Portfolios were introduced with the aim of improving the learning and assessment of doctors. Erik Driessen believes that they work well when used correctly, but Geoff Norman (doi: 10.1136/bmj.39541.449306.AD) remains unconvinced

    A major challenge facing us today is the move to assess doctors’ performance in the workplace instead of the examination hall. The portfolio remains our best solution. It allows the collation and integration of evidence on competence and performance from different sources to gain a comprehensive picture of everyday practice. Simultaneously, portfolios can guide and coach professional development. Studies in multiple contexts confirm that this is feasible if, and only if, users take on board the conditions required for effective use of portfolios.1 2

    Portfolios work

    To provide credible evidence of fitness to practise doctors have to show in realistic, often stressful, situations that they are competent in all aspects of patient management, diagnostics, communication, teamwork, administration, and professionalism. Since the 1990s various instruments have been developed to assess workplace based learning: the mini-clinical evaluation …

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