Aims and objectives. The aim of this study is to explore the introduction of portfolios into the first year of an MSc in Nursing Programme.
Background. This paper outlines a framework for portfolio development in postgraduate nursing practice. The framework is being piloted, within the Irish context, with students in the first year of a Masters in Nursing programme and has the potential to be developed for other nursing programmes at postgraduate level.
Design and method. An action research approach has been chosen to study the implementation of the portfolio and the development of a framework to guide this initiative. To date the development of the framework is being piloted as part of the ‘taking action’ phase of a first action research cycle.
Results. In its current stage of development the framework is constructed to embrace the core concepts of specialist nursing practice and the nursing management competencies, from current Irish health care documents. In addition the portfolio is anchored around personal development planning and is supported by the use of action learning tutorials and academic and practice facilitators. The first evaluating phase will take place later this year and will involve the collection of data from students, facilitators and lecturers.
Conclusion. The introduction of the portfolio at postgraduate level has highlighted, to date, issues of confidentiality in committing experiences to paper, issues around its assessment, and issues around sharing this document with other students.
Relevance to clinical practice. Portfolio development at postgraduate level emphasizes linking theory and practice and stresses the importance of reflection on practice. The portfolio can also be used by nurses to develop their clinical career pathways and encourage personal development planning.