A few months ago I participated in the first Royal College of Physicians (London) ePortfolio reference group. This group has been established to increase the trainee voice in the ePortfolio development process, and should be celebrated and welcomed. The RCP is leading the way in engaging trainees to make sure their educational experience is as good as possible. Does your College have trainee representation? If not, you should ask them why not…..
At this meeting we discussed many areas, and tried to keep things positive, focusing on what changes could be made that would make the ePortfolio better for trainees. The RCP agreed to take these issues forward to a meeting with the NHS ePortfolio providers NES:
1. Development of an API to allow integration with third-party tools
It is great that the RCP were willing to take this on and discuss this as a priority with NES. There are lots of apps being developed (including many at NHS Hackdays) which help trainees to capture their learning, for example in log books. There is currently no way that this data can be incorporated into the ePortfolio. Since NES does not have the capacity to create additional software, allowing third party software to interface would be a major step forward in increasing the functionality of the ePortfolio.
2. HTML5 app to concentrate on work place based assessments
As you may be aware there is now finally an app! Amazing! But at present it can only log reflective practice and send tickets. The group agreed that WPBAs/SLEs should be the priority for the next release of the app.
3. Development of summary views of data to support ARCPs
The current summary overview is unimaginative and unhelpful for ARCPs and PYAs. I have heard too many stories of trainees still having to print their portfolio, or send documents separately. In my own ARCP last year the panel could not find all the evidence they needed and I had to send it as PDFs afterwards. There should be a better way for the trainee to curate the content of the ePortfolio on an ARCP page. It should be possible to define the requirements for ARCP fulfilment and then demonstrate how these have been met. The data should be displayed in an easy to view at-a-glance way so that ARCP panels can rapidly see and access what they need.
4. Change to how ePortfolio roles are created so they are cumulative
Rather than having to switch between roles and select one, with different access levels for each type of access account. This is particularly important for those with significant assessor roles in addition to trainee roles.
Please let us know your thoughts on these issues, and tell us what your priorities are so that we are well prepared for the next meeting, hopefully in June/July. I’m looking forward to hearing how these issues were received and what plans are in place for taking them forward.
We have a real opportunity to raise issues, focus the priorities of those with the purse strings and effect change. Don’t stay silent!
You can give your feedback in a number of ways:
- Comment here (below this post)
- Talk to the JRCPTB ePortfolio team
- Talk to the your Foundation Programme school
- Give feedback to NES directly on Twitter
- Give feedback to NES about the app specifically
It seems the powers that be are listening! This blog has always tried to encourage communication and collaboration with all interested groups, and the managers and developers at NES (the group who run the NHS ePortfolio) have been great, engaging with users on Twitter and here.
Now they want to meet you in person. On their latest post they say:
[NES] is holding a series of user group meetings across the UK in late November 2012, open to all users of the ePortfolio but with a special interest in hearing from clinical staff.
The open meetings will serve a number of objectives including:
- Disseminating the future plans for ePortfolio and building them in conjunction with feedback from all users
- Providing an opportunity for users to speak their minds and share their ideas to improve the system
- Giving users a chance to meet members of the ePortfolio team (technical, training and managerial) directly and informally
- Offering a forum for users to present to peers and the ePortfolio team about their experience using the system
The meetings are in London, York and Edinburgh and are soon:
- York: 19th Nov 10am-2pm
- London: 20th Nov 10am-2pm
- Edinburgh: 27th Nov 10am-2pm
Unfortunately the times set for the meetings will severely limit the number of people who can attend. I can’t go as I have prior work commitments. And I’m not even in a Clinical job this year! I really hope that anyone on shifts or with a day off makes an effort to go and give your feedback. I have emailed to suggest an evening meeting (with wine) would be better attended.
When people offer to listen, we need to make sure they hear us. Or we’ll be stuck with the system as it is forever. If you can, sign up to a user group meeting near you here:
PS. Apologies for the 90s Spice Girls reference in the title…
A recent twitter post directed me to the blog of Dr Fiona Pathiraja, which I encourage you to read. She asks:
Am I the only member of the ePortfolio fan club? If the recent vitriol on Twitter is anything to go by, one would be forgiven for thinking that the fan club comprises n=1.
She suggests that much of the negative press is unfair, and that medics don’t know how lucky we are, especially when compared to the private sector.
However, looking more closely her comments are a mix of praise for the concept of an ePortfolio itself, the structured nature of medical training programmes, and the job security that so many others rightly envy. She is honest about the shortcomings of the NHS ePortfolio in its current form and the need for change.
Of course, the ePortfolio is far from perfect. The end user is typically generation Y and expects technology to have the beautiful aesthetics and seamless functionality of their i-products. Improving functionality e.g. linking curriculum items to assessments, and aesthetics is essential for an improved ePortfolio.
This is exactly the point. We expect more. We deserve more. It is time for investment in the NHS ePortfolio to bring its functionality and aesthetics into the era of generation Y.
She also goes beyond the technical aspects of the current ePortfolio and makes requests for: a better and more transparent evidence-base for assessment tools including WPBAs; more training for supervisors on use of assessments; and the need to treat medics as adult learners:
As a cohort of intelligent, motivated young people, we are able to take responsibility for adult learning, but need to be treated like adults in order to do so. If the ePortfolio gods are listening—engage with us, take constructive feedback, and try to improve the portfolio to inspire the medical generation Y.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This site is a first step in connecting users, developers, and Royal Colleges. If we can all work together to effect these changes, I might just join the fan club myself!