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Use of portfolios in otolaryngology graduate medical education


  • Presented at the Triological Society Combined Sections Meeting, Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A., January 27–29, 2011.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



Learning portfolios, as defined by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), are professional development tools for resident education. Moreover, the scope of portfolio use is expanding to become a component of the accreditation system, with likely mandatory implementation by 2016. The objective of this study is to describe the extent of portfolio use in otolaryngology training programs and resident attitudes toward portfolios.

Study Design:

Cross-sectional survey.


All residents in ACGME-accredited otolaryngology programs were contacted via email linked to an online survey. One follow-up email was sent after initial notification.


Three hundred eighteen (22%) of the 1,431 invited residents responded to the survey, representing 65 of 103 ACGME-accredited otolaryngology training programs. Fifty-eight percent of the programs represented had residents who maintained a portfolio. When asked to what extent portfolios enhanced education, 39% of residents who kept a portfolio found them helpful, 27% were neutral, and 35% did not find them helpful, although 60% plan to use their portfolio after residency. For those residents who did not maintain a portfolio, 70% cited they did not maintain a portfolio because it is not a requirement in their program. Twenty-one percent of all respondents felt that portfolios should be mandatory, whereas 61% felt that portfolios should be encouraged, but not required.


Although portfolios are encouraged by the ACGME, and will ultimately become mandatory, they are not yet fully integrated in otolaryngology training programs. Only a minority of residents in this study thought portfolios enhanced education.