Don’t panic! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and you most likely will feel nervous, given the volume of competencies in your e-portfolio.
In fairness, there ARE a lot of them, but if you look carefully, you’ll notice that quite a few of them ask for similar things (health and safety, infection control, ECG lead placement, etc.), so completing a fair few of them with the same information will lessen the burden on you. The most time consuming task the portfolio required was, in my experience, the actual writing up of things as oppose to the research. The info is all readily available, so with adequate planning, you shouldn’t have too much bother.
Get started early!
The more you do before you go out on placement, the easier it’ll be to focus on your assessments and the competencies that require you to be in the trust.
Obviously you aren’t going to be able to complete everything, but there are a few competencies that are easily doable from the comfort of your own home. That’s not to say that doing it all on placement is a chore, its just good sense to make your life as easy as possible.
Evidence comes in many forms!
I used websites, my own notes, essays, a placement journal that I kept and photographs that I took out on the clinic. With the latter, make sure you ask your mentor if it’s ok to do so and just ensure to remove anything that could breach patient confidentiality. You may find that one piece of evidence applies to more than one competency. This is fine, just be sure to annotate the evidence so that the person assessing can see why it’s applicable to each.
If your trust has a library, use it!
Set aside a day, a morning or afternoon per week, to study and work on your portfolio. Hospital libraries have books on nursing care and medicine that can provide evidence for your competencies and they take you away from the distractions of the clinic. It sounds obvious, I know, but it’s immeasurably beneficial to allow some time such as this; you’ll be surprised how little sit-down time you get in the department.
Take a laptop to placement!
Given that your first placement is a measly six weeks, you most likely won’t be granted personal access to your trust’s computers or intranet system. It’s annoying, as the trust intranet is where you’ll probably find all the hospital-specific policies you’ll need for your portfolio (this was the only part of my placement I found challenging for the wrong reasons). Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do about it, I’m afraid. The library or learning centre staff may be able to give you an administrator password, but failing that, using your mentor’s login details if and when you can is your best bet. As long as you plan what it is you’re looking for, you should be able to find everything and if you take your laptop, you’ll be able to work on your placement whenever you get a free minute AND you’ll look busy to the department staff. Bonus!