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    By Tracy M. Towne, PhD, RN & Elaina Mahlan, MSN/Ed., RN, CNE, FCN

    In spite of the current and increasing nursing shortage in the U.S. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014), competition is high and pursuing your desired professional nursing position can be a challenge. 

    Competition also extends beyond the workplace to graduate school where applicants often face the challenge of limited enrollment. So the question is, “How can an RN gain a competitive edge?”

    Skills and Abilities for Today’s Workforce 

    In a survey of business and non-profit leaders, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) explored what the perceived learning experiences and practices are for students entering the workforce after completing their education (2013). The AACU develops the analysis and report to assist colleges and universities in planning the best curricula and educational practices that will lead to student success in the workforce after graduation.  

    One aspect viewed as important by 95% of employers was the future employee’s ability to contribute to the innovation of the workplace (AACU, 2013). In fact, 92% of those surveyed considered innovation as absolutely essential to each of their individual organizations (AACU, 2013). Innovation in health care is a high priority of many academics and business professionals. Each year the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Medical School hold a joint forum with academics, policymakers, and executives for the sole purpose of exploring innovative actions in health care (Harvard Business School, n.d.).  

    • Along with innovation, the AACU survey reported that employers seek individuals who are able to:  
    • Communicate clearly  
    • Solve complex problems 
    • Exhibit ethical judgment and integrity 
    • Show the capacity to continually learn 
    • Use evidenced based research (AACU, 2013)  

    In today’s work environment, RNs use these characteristics to face the daily complexities and challenges of health care. But how can RNs demonstrate these skills and abilities to potential employers? One way to showcase individual talents and skills is through an e-Portfolio (electronic portfolio).

    What Is an e-Portfolio? 

    Created by the professional or learner, an e-Portfolio is an accumulation of a person’s achievements and experiences (JISC, 2008). This online repository of completed work and accomplishments can be shared with potential employers or other professionals. AACU’s survey (2013) noted that four out of five employers indicated an e-Portfolio would be beneficial and allow the employer to more readily assess the individual’s abilities and knowledge. An e-Portfolio is more than a resume or college transcript—it provides a complete picture of an individual’s work and experiences.

    Creating an e-Portfolio 

    At Kaplan University, the e-Portfolio is a capstone requirement in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Students who are creating an e-Portfolio submit required items demonstrating achievement of program objectives along with:

    • A resume  
    • Letters of recommendation 
    • Description of awards, community services, or committee work  
    • Any other pertinent documentation of the student’s skills, abilities, and experiences  

    The e-Portfolio not only demonstrates successful completion of the BSN program, but is developed for the student to use in the future when pursuing new employment or continuing their education. Students have access to their e-Portfolio after graduation and are encouraged to keep building the e-Portfolio as they gain new skills, abilities, and experiences. The implementation of the e-Portfolio allows students to showcase their strengths, and could be a benefit when competing for professional positions.

    Why Use an e-Portfolio? 

    Even with a current nursing shortage, the workplace continues to be competitive and there are often many applicants for the most coveted nursing jobs. Employers seek innovative workers with a specific skill set, and in today’s fast-paced work environment it is important to get the attention of the future employer.

    An e-Portfolio can be an excellent way to showcase all that you have to offer and shows a future employer the full breadth of your valuable experiences. Kaplan University has made the development of the e-Portfolio a priority for our graduates, and we also encourage professional RNs to consider the development of an e-Portfolio during their career journey.

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    And if you are considering pursuing a nursing degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University's School of Nursing and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.



  • References

    Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2013). It takes more than a major: Employer priorities for college learning and student success: Overview of key findings. Retrieved fromhttp://www.aacu.org/leap/presidentstrust/compact/2013SurveySummary

    Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). Registered nurses. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm#tab-6

    Harvard School of Business. (n.d.). Forum on Healthcare Innovation. Retrieved from http://forumonhealthcareinnovation.org/about

    Joint Information Systems Committee. (2008). Effective practice with e-Portfolios. Retrieved from http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140615090512/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/effectivepracticeeportfolios.pdf 

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