In 2020/21, IMT recruitment moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that the actual need to prepare a physical copy of the ‘dreaded’ internal medicine training portfolio was gone. However, with interviews cancelled, candidates were required to submit their evidence virtually for assessment by an examiner and thus preparing your portfolio still remained an important step when considering applying for internal medicine training. Preparing your portfolio is also good practice and will help you to focus your mind on the interview. It is also likely that the portfolio you build for this interview will stay with you and form the basis of your portfolio for many years to come so the sooner you start the better.
The score determining whether you are short-listed for interview is based on your application self assessment and covers 8 sections. We would recommend thinking about your portfolio in terms of these headings:
- Quality Improvement
Preparing your IMT Portfolio
The portfolio station is worth 33% of the overall score in the IMT interview and so it is worth knowing what you’ve put in before you sit down to enable you to talk about it! The portfolio can be prepared however you want it, and can shape the thoughts and questions of the interviewers on the day. The remaining 66% of interview points come from the management and clinical stations for which performance also relies on good preparation, but all points are determined on the day – please see our IMT Interview question bank for help preparing in these areas.
Preparing your portfolio can be a daunting task. Lots of people won’t have ever made a portfolio before and that’s normal, what is important is not to throw it together at the last minute. You should start thinking about your portfolio now, as you are thinking about your application, and slowly pull together all the information that’s going to make you look great.
The ‘Portfolio’ makes up a whole station when it comes to the interview, so it is very important. The interviewers will expect you to know everything that you put into your portfolio, so again, it pays to arrange it early and know it backwards. Last year, if the interviews had gone ahead, the interviewers wouldn’t have physically had the portfolio as in previous years. The questions for this section would have focussed more on your self assessment questions and this is why the portfolio should roughly follow the headings outlined above. Putting the portfolio together will allow you to structure your thoughts and make answering questions about your suitability as a candidate much more straightforward.
The portfolio, or ‘Evidence Folder’, should be put together in a standard lever arch folder with a contents page at the beginning and dividers for each section. You should also upload a virtual copy of each piece of evidence onto your computer so that it can be uploaded to the JRCPTB in the event that they need to see it. You can name the sections as you want but I would follow the titles given to you for each of the scoring sections: Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Prizes/Awards, Presentations etc. This way the examiners can quickly go through each section and mark off the evidence against your IMT application scores. This means there will be more time for actual questions in the interview and allows you more time to talk and sell yourself rather than helping the examiner find a bit of evidence and waste your time.
Ultimately, the ‘portfolio’ is a way for the examiners to get an idea of you before you enter, but it is how you present and discuss the items within it that really scores you points. Think about the parts of your portfolio that you are most proud of, and the parts that will make you a good fit to be a medical SHO, these are the bits to focus on in your answer – make the examiners look at your best bits!
The last bit of your IMT portfolio is for you to detail any extracurricular activities and commitment to specialty, this can include what you like and is your way of showing off. The interviewers want to see that there is a life beyond medicine and ultimately that you are a nice human being who they could actually work with. Anything could go in this section, maybe you sing in a choir, or you love mountain climbing, or you’re just really good at baking. Whatever it is, find a way of including it and it will certainly make you stand out that little bit more.
Key points for a physical IMT portfolio:
- Make sure it’s neat and easy to use. The examiners only get ten minutes with it before you enter the room. It should be clear from the contents page where every bit of evidence is and how to get to it.
- Do not over fill your portfolio! You may think that you have to put in everything you have ever done in medicine. Do NOT do this. All you will accomplish is to irritate your examiners. Be selective with what you include – chose only the best bits and the things YOU want to talk about. It must be relevant to the job your applying for so don’t include it if it isn’t!
- Make it stand out. How you achieve this is up to you, but you want your examiners to remember you. You could include some great patient feedback, or a letter from your consultant. Whatever you do, make sure it’s easy for the examiner to find so they have read it before you enter
- Prepare it early. Putting a portfolio together the night before happens more often than you would think. It will be disorganised and you may miss things so start collating your info now so you have time to check and review it.
- Nurture your portfolio. The IMT portfolio you start putting together now will likely last with you throughout your training career and the same things that score you points now will likely score you points in the future. Don’t think of your portfolio as something you need for interviews but rather as a reflection of your career to date.
Check out all our Internal Medicine Training (IMT) Interview Resources.