MRCGP & GP Training

The ePortfolio (& Learning Logs)

What is an ePortfolio and why do I need one?

An ePortfolio is a collection of electronic evidence gathered and managed by the learner for demonstrating your skills, successes and learning in general.   It is essentially an educational tool which is electronic in nature as an alternative to cumbersome  paper-based portfolios.

For those of you starting out on your GP schemes, the ePortfolio will become your learning record for the workplace-based assessment (WPBA).   In fact, a record of personal development and experience is mandatory for all doctors in training in the UK (and the same is happening outside the UK). It provides evidence that training has taken place and allows the doctor to reflect on a range of learning opportunities.  By making use of the full capability of electronic systems, the ePortfolio can be used to record, monitor and manage a GP trainee’s learning all in one place.  By providing a structure for documenting the evidence harvested through Work-Place Based Assessment (WPBA) tools, the ePortfolio helps to ensure that judgements about the GP trainee’s progress and achievement are based on a clear, systematically recorded picture of competence.  Above all else the Trainee ePortfolio is where the GP trainee records their learning in all its forms and settings. Its prime function is to be an educational tool that will record and facilitate the management of the journey of clinical and personal development through learning.

The ePortfolio helps…

  1. YOU to reflect on your learning experiences to see what you’ve got out of them. It helps you think about your experiences and particular patient encounters. It also signposts things you should know so that at the end of training you’re ready and safe to practice as an independent GP.
  2. THE DEANERY with quality assurance – that you have acquired the minimum competencies to practise safely.
  3. THE PUBLIC by reassuring them that you have gone through some rigorous structured training.  This gives them faith in our profession and reassurance that their tax money used for training you is justified.

ePortfolio for starters - access

  • Your e-portfolio is the tool in which you collect evidence to demonstrate your progress though training and your competence for application for CCT.
  • You should register with the RCGP for training to get access to the e-portfolio. Click here to access.
  • Information on the e-portfolio including a full guide on how to use it can be found here.  The e-portfolio also has an extensive help and frequently asked questions section.

How is the ePortfolio Organised?

There are a lot of sections to the ePortfolio when you first meet it.  But don’t worry.  Most of the sections provide information only.   The areas where you are required to enter information are listed below on the left hand side.  This is where you need to spend most of your time.

Sections which require input from you

Learning Logs

This is your personal record of your learning throughout your programme. You will spend most of your ePortfolio time here – writing and constructing learning log entries.  These entries, when shared, contribute to the evidence considered at your Educational Supervisors Review and Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP).  You will be writing 3 learning log entries per week, covering the full range of learning opportunities and cover the whole curriculum over your 3 years in training.

PDP – Personal Development Plan

Your PDP shows you are engaged in the learning cycle by planning your learning after identifying your learning needs. PDP entries are usually generated at the end of your Educational Supervision meetings.  Of course, you needn’t wait til then.  Start generating your own from your learning log entries  (there is a send to PDP button so you can automatically create a PDP entry from a learning log entry)

Evidence 

This is the  other section where you will spend a lot of your time.   It collects details of all the formal WPBA assessments you undertake. There is an indication of the number of assessments that is required. Both you and you trainer will log into this area often to record your assessments.  

Educators’ Notes 

In this section, the trainee CANNOT add information, but their GP trainer can.   In fact any educator involved in the trainee’s programme, including GP School staff and ARCP panels can use it to give feedback. Please check this section regularly as you will often find comments on both highlights and difficulties.  The purpose of this section is to communicate important things about the trainee “in a nutshell” to others – without having to sift through the volumes of evidence within the ePortfolio.

Sections where you cannot add data
("at a glance" information pages)

Summary

Provides a summary of things like your posts, evidence so far, next review, declarations, progress to certification.  You might want to check that your posts and dates are correct but other than that, you use this page much.  

Review Preparation

This is the area where all your Educational Supervision (ES) reports are kept.   This is the area where you can read and “accept”  the report generated after your ES meetings. ARCP reports are stored here too.

Posts 

Basically lists your posts in your rotation with dates.  If they are incorrect, you must inform your GP training scheme’s administrator.   Other than that, you will not be spending much time in this section.  

 Skills Log 

This area details all the clinical and procedural skills that you have been assessed on and added so far.     Remember, there are some mandatory CEPS.  Again, you won’t spend much time here other than near ES meetings to check where you are at with it all.  You skills can be assessed by any senior clinicians and fully qualified nurses or other health professionals.  But you CANNOT and MUST NOT use your GP trainee colleagues – even if they’ve left a medical specialty where that examination was a key role. 

Curriculum Coverage

This area basically tells you which parts of the extensive GP curriculum you have covered and got evidence for from your learning log entries.  You won’t spend much of your time here but it can be good to dip in periodically to see what you are not covering and to work on that.  

Competence Areas

Basically a visual display of all 13 Professional Competencies and the amount of evidence you have managed to collect for each one so far.   

Progress to Certification

Provides a quick overview of where you are at with your progress to your CCT – Certificate of Completion of Training.  

Downloads

I find this area rather useless.   It’s just a quick access to things that are easy to access elsewhere in your ePortfolio – like post details, ARCP outcomes, your PDP,  Educators’ Notes, Reviews and so on. 

What sorts of things should I include?

The diagram on the right shows some of the sorts of things that should be included in your ePortfolio.  And you’re not the only one that can put stuff onto your ePortfolio.  Your GP Trainer, Clinical Supervisor (e.g consultant in hospital posts) and Educational Supervisor can also add notes and comments.

A quick but important word about Plagiarism

Before reading the sections below, please click the button below to understand what plagiarism is and the Code of Conduct that everyone expects from you.   This is an incredibly important area that you must understand fully because a breach in the code of conduct expected from you can result in extremely serious consequences – such as a GMC referral, police investigation and even criminal proceedings.

Understanding Reflection

Learning cannot happen without reflection (Mezirow).   So – your log entries have to show more than a description of what happened.  You have to reflect and analyse the situation if you are to learn from it.  It is this analysis that will help you develop and is the thing Educators look for – like your GP Trainer, your Educational Supervisor and at the ARCP panels.  Click the button below to learn more.

FAQs

At the beginning of specialty training, when a GP trainee registers with the Royal College of GPs (RCGP),  they will be given access to the RCGP Trainee ePortfolio which will be used throughout the training period, in both hospital posts and primary care. It is accessed and updated through the internet.
  • Although the ePortfolio belongs to the GP trainee, key parts of it are accessible to the GP Trainer, Hospital Consultant, Educational Supervisor and deanery administrators through a permissions system.
  • The trainee will use it to record their learning experiences and reflections.
  • The trainee’s Educators (like  the Clinical Supervisor, Educational Supervisor, Training Programme Director and so on) will use it to record things like the trainee’s assessments, progress and reviews.
  • It must be used at all stages of training to document the assessments.  The assessments recorded in the Trainee ePortfolio will be drawn from performance and evaluation taking place in the real situations in which doctors work.
  • The Trainee ePortfolio should also be used to record and validate naturally occurring evidence against the competence framework. This is evidence which occurs in the course of practice and which illustrates the GP trainee’s competence. For example, the trainee may do an evidence review on a specific topic and present it to a practice meeting. This might be taken as evidence of data gathering and interpretation, or communication skills. Evidence that a trainee is late for ward rounds on a regular basis might be discussed with the them and recorded under teamwork. Naturally occurring evidence needs to be validated by the Clinical Supervisor (GP trainer in GP posts, Hospital Consultant in hospital posts).
  • All entries can be  tagged to the competence areas so that an overall picture of competence is easily accessed.
  • It also allows competence in areas such as team-working to be appraised in a manner which cannot be done by the AKT and CSA.
  • The ePortfolio will detail achievements in the various MRCGP exams – namely, AKT and CSA.
  • It has a diary and a mailbox.  It also contain links to learning resources that are being developed by the RCGP and has a personal area where individuals can save files, documents, certificates of learning and other digital materials.
In general, the ePortfolio might be described as the “glue” which holds the curriculum learning and assessment together.

There’s always a few trainees every year who fail to add much to their ePortfolio.   And we know that there are an infinite number of  reasons why a trainee may not engage with the ePortfolio (and we understand it’s not the trainee just being lazy).  For instance, perhaps you relate to one or more of the following:

  • You don’t understand its value (either for you or others).
  • You don’t know what sorts of things to include and not to include.
  • Perhaps you haven’t got into a routine of doing it and need some suggestions.
  • You can’t find the time to do it in your busy job
  • Perhaps you’re anxious about writing in it because you’re afraid who might see it.

These are valid reasons but the unfortunate thing is that it is only you who will lose out if you don’t tackle this EARLY.  You are assessed on your ePortfolio (as well as the WPBA assessments) and we have known GP trainees who have been asked to repeat a post simply because there is a lack of evidence in the ePortfolio to give them ‘a ticket’ to move onto the next year.   At the very least, please talk to your Trainer or Educational Supervisor about it EARLY on.   They won’t be upset, they just want to help you.  Far too often, trainees leave things right until the end – and that’s when chaos breaks loose.  Here are some suggestions from our trainees who have struggled.  May be something here might help you.

  • Is it because you don’t know what to write?   If so, read and familiarise yourself with the competency headings and what they mean.   Also read Bradford VTS’s ePortfolio Pearls document (in the downloads box above).
  • Is it because you’re struggling to find the time to add entries?     Then consider coming in half an hour early each day during your hospital or GP posts so that you can add some log entries.  Alternatively, leave half an hour at the end of you shift.   If it takes ages to drive home (because of rush hour traffic e.g. after half day release), consider leaving later.  If you’re in a GP post, think about loading up the ePortfolio at the same time you log into the GP clinical system before starting surgery.   In that way, you can add ‘rough notes’ on interesting patients you see and smarten them up later.   If you get GP surgery admin time, you should use that to add entries.  For those in hospital posts, try and use ‘gaps’ in your working day as opportunities to add stuff on.  Most places have wifi these days –   which helps them to put ePortfolio entries on more flexibly – via their phones, tablets or laptops.
  • Is it because you’re not particularly good at typing?  Typing with speed definitely makes the job of adding log entries less cumbersome. If you’re typing skills aren’t very good, consider investing in Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing – it only costs £20 and I guarantee you’ll be loads better within 2 weeks.  And it’s important to acquire typing skills right now – because the rest of your future career requires you to type well.  You can also invest in a speech to text recognition program like Dragon Naturally Speaking.   It works incredibly well.  Those with iPhones can download Dragon Voice Dictate onto their iPhones and simply dictate as and when they see something interesting – the program will convert your dictation into text which you can then easily email to yourself to later cut and paste into your ePortfolio.
  • Is it that you simply hate the ePortfolio and feel sick of the thought of it?  Perhaps you do all this stuff in your head anyway?  Perhaps you can’t see the point of it?  If so, you need to change your attitude.  The more you hate the ePortfolio, the more subconciously you will shy away from it.   Start learning to love it a little.  Make friends with it.  Seriously, this often helps you feel better about adding entries.   At the end of the day, you have to use the ePortfolio, even if it doesn’t fit in with your learning style.   That’s the way it is I am afraid and it’s here to stay – so perhaps one needs to change oneself.  If you ePortfolio is anaemic, only you will lose out.    Start looking at it more positively.
  • Perhaps you feel constrained by all the different boxes and their headings that you feel you have to complete within the ePortfolio?    If you often struggle to find things to put in each of the boxes, then you need to ‘chill’ a little.  It’s okay to leave several of the boxes empty.  They are only there to guide you and for some people or some situations, they don’t work particularly well.    Sometimes, trainees like to put i) what they learned  ii) what they would do differently and iii) future learning needs lumped together in one box – because it’s easier for them that way.   And that is absolutely fine.   You don’t have to fill in every box – only those marked with an asterisk (*) and even in those, you can use your own titles rather than the ones set by RCGP.

Please leave a comment

What do you think of this page?  Is there anything we have missed?  Anything inaccurate, errors or broken links?  Anything you would have liked included?   Or even ask a question to get a discussion going.  Please leave a comment below and we’ll update the page.   If you would prefer to email me or send me something to share with others, contact [email protected]

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