Hi, I am Aishwarya, an IMG from India. I am currently doing my Master's in Cardiovascular Research at King's College London. In today's blog article, I am going to share with you some important information about building your portfolio in med school.
What is expected?
Working on your portfolio is not something that is achieved overnight. It requires years of effort, starting from your first year of medical school. This is because there are various aspects that you need to work on that make a holistically developed doctor. For the training pathway in the United Kingdom, these are some of the different aspects that are expected:
· Leadership & Management
· Additional degrees
· Postgraduate qualifications
· Commitment to specialty
· Achievements outside medicine
This is something of high significance in the UK. Once you become a doctor, you are expected to impart the knowledge to your juniors in some sort of way. This can be done as ward teaching sessions at a small scale level for the junior students/nursing staff. You will be assessed based on the number of teaching sessions you conduct in a year and also based on whether you conducted it yourself. After every teaching session, you will need to obtain an informal feedback form filled out by the attendees for proof of teaching.
Research & Publications
Research is something that is highly regarded in the field of medicine. This section will score you based on the number of PubMed publications you have and whether you were the first author for your projects. It is essential that you publish all your work and not just keep it in your portfolio, because that will be of no benefit. Publications can be review articles, original papers, case presentations, surveys, and questionnaires. The exact scoring will depend on the kind of specialty you choose.
Includes both oral and poster presentations. This can be as simple as an audit that you have presented with your team or a poster at a national level or international level conference. You will be assessed on the number of presentations you give and what kind (oral / poster) and whether it was at a local, regional/national/international level.
Quality Improvement Projects (QIPs) are extremely important in your career as a doctor. Doing one in your home country might not be very feasible as the concept of an audit is not very prevalent in other countries. An audit is basically done to compare current medical practices with the gold standard ones put in place and to analyse if there is any improvement that can be done for the benefit of the patients. These can be done during your F2 non-training job in the UK or during the time you do a clinical attachment.
Leadership & Management
This part of the scoring criteria is very subjective to the specialty you apply for. It is graded based on what kind of position you have held, if it was for more than 6 months, and whether it was a national or local level post. It can also be a post within or outside medicine. The important thing while having a leadership post is all about reflection. Reflection is something highly assessed in the United Kingdom. You need to identify what you could have done better and how you might have improved your skills.
These are other degrees that you intercalate in or do once you graduate from medical school. The degrees that are of value include Masters, PGCert, PGDip, PhD, Masters of Research (MRes), Masters of Science (MSc) and Intercalated degrees during your under graduation (widely done by students graduating in the UK). These courses can be quite expensive from the IMG standpoint, so people usually prefer boosting other aspects of their CV rather than shell out a lot of money for these courses since the maximum you can score on the portfolio for such courses is usually a 2/3.
Commitment to speciality
There are various ways to show your dedication to the particular field you are choosing. These can include doing attachments, having these particular rotations during your non-training jobs, doing different CPD courses, attending conferences, and passing the Royal College exams.
Clearing the Royal College exams (MRCP/ MRCS) is a definitive way to boost your portfolio.
Achievements outside medicine
It is essentially important that you are a holistically developed doctor and not just in terms of academics. Achievements outside medicine can include something as basic as pursuing your hobbies/interests. Music, Athletics, attending medical camps, volunteering, literally anything that interests you can be included.
If you have any questions about building your portfolio, I would be happy to answer them at trewlink.com.
Written by Ash
Edited by Julia