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If you are planning to get into internal medicine training (IMT) then now is the best time to start thinking about your portfolio. When you decide on coming to work in the UK, you want to be able to plan out what your long term plans are so that you can focus on reaching that goal. As we both managed to do that within our first year in the NHS, we thought it best to layout a guideline for how you can too.
What is a portfolio?
Career portfolios are an organized presentation of an individual's education, work samples, and skills. They are more in-depth than a resume, which is used to summarize the above in one or two pages. It serves as proof of one's skills, abilities, and potential in the future.
So, basically a portfolio is a folder which contains some pieces of paper.
Planning for Internal Medicine Training (IMT) Portfolio
If you look at the evidence summary form for your IMT portfolio, you instantly know what things they are expecting you to put together. Don't panic thinking that you can't have all of them in the list.
Additional Undergraduate of Postgraduate Degrees & Qualifications
You can definitely add here if you have completed an intercalated degree, BSc, BMedSci or equivalent. It doesn't have to be from a UK university. You can also claim points for your PG qualification like MD, MPhil etc in the online application process. Make sure you add pieces of evidence to those in your portfolio.
Prizes & Honors
If you had obtained any prizes or honours for your academic achievements during or after your medical education, you can surely add those in your portfolio.
If you haven't already, get a certificate signed by the proper authority where you have given an oral presentation or presented a poster. The oral presentation could be in a national or international conference.
The easiest way to get a poster presentation is to keep an eye out for different conferences, and submitting your poster which could be an audit, a case report, something educational etc. And also the poster presented doesn't have to be in the UK.
Definitely add evidence of your publications in your IMT portfolio. It doesn't have to the entire paper, just the abstract and definitely, the evidence of your name on it should suffice.
This is very easily achievable when you are doing a non-training job in the UK. Get yourself involved in departmental teaching, get formal feedback from the participants in the feedback forms, and attach those in your portfolio too.
Training in teaching
There are quite a few "Teach the Teacher" / "Train the trainer" courses available for a fee. If you are interested you can partake those courses and claim points for that.
This is another thing which could be easily added in your portfolio while doing a non-training job in the UK. Speak to your hospital's audit department to know if there are any open national or local audits that are currently running, or speak to them about potential audits or QIPs that could be done.
Check How to perform a clinical audit and QIP for better understanding of the whole process.
You can add evidence of your uncompleted loop of the clinical audit here too.
Leadership & Management
There are many Leadership & Management courses for a fee, sometimes your trust may run something for free as well. Keep an eye out for those courses, or you can always do some e-learning and reflect on those.
Commitment to Specialty
If you have passed any parts of MRCP, then it goes here. If you have booked MRCP, you can still add the booking here. Your previous experience of working in the medical-related specialities can also prove to be a commitment to the specialty.
Achievements Outside Medicine
It is quite self-explanatory. But remember that just because you are good at something outside medicine doesn't make that an achievement. You have to provide evidence of the achievement of any sports or co-curricular activities.
Training courses attended
Definitely your ALS certification goes here if you have completed it. Add all other training course certifications here.
If you have anything else you want to add, you can title them in your evidence summary form and add it. It's better to add anything and not get any points rather that not adding and completing later that you should have.
What should my first job be in the NHS?
It makes the most sense to take your first non-training job in a medical specialty, so try and apply accordingly. If you only have 1 year of internship experience before starting your NHS job, you will need to make sure you will have completed another year (post-internship) before the intended start date of your training. As this training starts in August, it's a good idea to either complete the year in your own home country, or plan so that you have a year completed in the NHS by the time your training starts.
There may be bias in my words since I started with A&E, but I always recommend it as you get a clear picture of how patients enter into the hospital and they are later referred or sent home as needed. It's definitely faster paced than most other departments, but I suggest you give Working in A&E a read to get a better understanding of what you can expect.
Whatever area of medicine you decide to start it, it's a great idea to ensure you have on-call duties within your rota instead of just keeping a basic rota. The reason I say this is because you will be doing on-calls during your training, and it's helpful to already know what to expect before you start your training post. It's also, for this reason, I'd suggest aiming to apply for CT1 non-training posts as your first job so that you again have a clear picture of the responsibilities you'd have once in training. That being said, starting at an FY2 level is not a bad option if you feel that CT1 would be too big of a jump.
What can I do to make a strong portfolio?
No matter where you start out, there are ample opportunities for you to ensure that you have a solid portfolio. The portfolio station of your interview is a good way to gain extra points in your overall score if you are smart about what you do beforehand. Some good things to involve yourself in is any audits or quality improvement projects (QIPs) that may be occurring. Speak to your hospital's audit department to know if there are any open national or local audits that are currently running, or speak to them about potential audits or QIPs that could be done.
Within your hospital, you should also strive to participate in as many teachings, simulations, and any courses that can bolster your overall application. Many of these courses can even offer CPD points that can go towards your appraisal. Examples of courses you can complete are BLS, ILS, and ALERT. Please note that you must have completed ALS by the intended start date of the training. The full breakdown as to what you can claim and the number of points you can claim, please see the application scoring page on the IMT official website.
How do I compile the Internal Medicine Training (IMT) portfolio?
You will need to invest in a sturdy level arch folder that will hold all of the evidence you will be providing in your submission. The front of your folder should have your name, GMC number, and application. It's a good idea to type it up and tape it to the front and the side of the folder. Whatever evidence you're providing, I would suggest keeping them in page protectors. This is not mandatory, but I just feel that everything looks neater and more professional with them. The front of your folder should be your Evidence Summary Form.
As you can see, there are different areas of applications mentioned in the form. You don't need to make a section of your folder for if you don't have any evidence to provide. For instance, if you don't have any publications, you need not make a separate section for it that would ultimately be empty. I again would suggest typing up a header for each area and keeping it within a page protector before you present the evidence on the next few pages. As you can see from the photo above, you need to number your pages and mention what evidence is where. Follow the order shown above when putting everything together.
My personal suggestion again, but definitely think about using page tags to highlight each section so that the interviewer can easily flip to the pages you have. Write on them with permanent fine tip markers that don't bleed so that everything looks professional and neat. The organization is key for your internal medicine training portfolio, and that along with overall put togetherness goes a long way in your total points.
You can check out our webinar to better understand what we submitted and compiled in order to get into Internal Medicine Training:
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my portfolio is not much?
We all start somewhere, and that's why it is important to plan everything ahead. If you wish to start IMT training in August 2020, you should know the application timeline way ahead of time and prepare to get things done. Planning is the key.
Should my evidence be certified by someone?
No, it doesn't have to be certified. It is a probity issue if you supply wrong or tailored documents in a training interview portfolio. You risk losing your GMC registration.
Your portfolio plays a big role in your interview process. You will be asked to talk about certain points, so make sure you are very comfortable about all points and papers provided in your evidence folder. We will talk more about what you can expect during the interview in our next post.