Intended for healthcare professionals


Building a portfolio for specialty applications

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 07 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2481
  1. Clara Salice, foundation year one doctor
  1. Whipps Cross Hospital, London
  1. clara.salice{at}

Clara Salice shares her experience of building a portfolio for specialty applications

The medical portfolio is something you will hear about from day 1 of medical school. Lecturers, clinicians, and other students might promote certain experiences as being “great for your portfolio.” Starting your portfolio early and updating it regularly will save time in the long run. Knowing the relevant scoring criteria for applications and collating your existing achievements will enable you to make strategic choices about how to allocate your limited time to maximise points.

What is a portfolio?

Medical students and junior doctors are increasingly asked to record their achievements in a mandatory training portfolio.1 Progression to the next stage of training depends on completion of the necessary learning outcomes. This portfolio based assessment is designed for learners to take a more active and autonomous role in their learning and assessment. A well known example is the foundation programme’s Horus e-portfolio, where doctors must record several case based discussions and mini clinical evaluation exercises, and have a minimum attendance at teaching sessions. Revalidation, which doctors complete every five years, requires a portfolio of evidence to show they are up to date and providing a good level of care.

Another kind of portfolio is used as part of the job application process. This article focuses on the portfolio needed when applying to core or specialty training. Applicants are asked to bring a physical portfolio of evidence to interview, where the evidence will be given a total score based on defined criteria (see box 1).

Box 1

An example scoring system for the achievements documented in a portfolio, taken from Internal Medicine Training entry 20202

  • Additional undergraduate degrees and qualifications—maximum points 6

  • Postgraduate degrees and qualifications—maximum points …

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