A perfect dental portfolio

Figure 1: Demonstration of rubber dam isolation at an anterior composite course

Shiraz Khan equips the reader with the understanding of what a portfolio entails and what aspects will contribute to a portfolio.

Having a portfolio is now one of the staple adjuncts that practitioners, and particularly our younger colleagues, should have. This will function to demonstrate skill and competencies that the practitioner possesses, but also the proactivity, care and consideration that the individual takes to demonstrate their ability.

Being able to provide a portfolio of evidence of your development and skills will always place you in good stead for the more sought-after posts.

A personal development portfolio is really a good start. This allows for one to one to establish short medium-term goals that are being strived to achieve. For instance, this may be to develop an understanding in occlusion, or improve clinical photographic techniques. Either way, it shows prospect employers the type of dentistry you are wishing to strive for. 

A clinical portfolio

Moving forward a clinical portfolio allows one to demonstrate skill, competence and a variety of skills that the practitioner possesses. In addition, it is a great opportunity to showcase the type of work that is already occurring at the practice, so some research into the types of treatments offered before sending your portfolio across will always pay dividends.

The clinical aspect to the portfolio can be demonstrated by clinical cases, using photographs and one-page key summaries of the patient’s complaints, findings and treatment completed. Furthermore, clinical competence can also be demonstrated by photographs of ‘in vitro practice’.

Figure 2: Effective clinical photography can describe thousands of words. Anterior 3-3

Clinical photography

This moves us on to ensuring that clinical photography is reproducible, professional and taken using the appropriate equipment. This is something, which is definitely an acquired skill, as undergraduates do not have very much exposure to taking clinical photographs. Having been on courses and practicing has allowed for a full set of intra and extraoral photographs to be taken within a few minutes, and has now become routine part of my new patient consultations, with patient consent of course.

Recording totals

Another significant aspect to the clinical aspect of your portfolio is the use recording of totals of certain treatment modalities. How many direct restorations have been completed, how many crowns, bridges, root-treatments, surgical procedures, implant placements/restorations. This provides an opportunity for the employer to gauge your experience and assesses your suitability for the desired post.

However, are there any other dental achievements you have ascertained? Have you written in peer-reviewed or non-peer-reviewed publications? This often allows prospective employers to understand where you see yourself, and the type of dentistry you are aspiring to offer.

Have you mentored any individuals? Do you have a lecturing portfolio? A demonstration of keenness to share and develop individuals only confirms the aspiration of a continuously reflective clinician, as being able to demonstrate a technique, skill or approach means that time has been taken to perfect or improve what is being ‘preached’ per se.

Figure 3: Exemplar flyers/infographics as part of your portfolio

Prizes or awards

Have you been short-listed for any prizes or awards? If you have won that is a massive credit to the individual. However, more important than the outcome, is the very fact that an individual is taking the time to create such submissions and striving to continuously improve.

Finally, affiliations to any societies, academies and other professional organisations is important for demonstration of self-development, again personifying the type of dentistry either, a) you would like to provide b) like to improve or a combination of both. Which then leads on to the next aspect, a highlight section of your CPD profile will corroborate the information given in your portfolio, with a clear insight in to the development pathway you are undertaking.

The truth is that the General Dental Council’s plans for practitioners to demonstrate competence with revalidation, will require all individuals to commit to this practice. Therefore, being further abreast and having this strategy in place will not only demonstrate your skills and competence, but also a proactive nature. This alongside a clinician who is openly and honestly critiquing their work with only one desire, to improve, are formulary to the development of a successful clinician and putting you in good stead to impress potential employers.

Dr Shiraz Khan graduated from the University of Birmingham Dental School in 2013. Visit www.drshirazkhan.com or Twitter @shirazkhanage.

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