As mentioned in the previous blog, I have managed to merge week four and five by accident, and therefore I thought I may have been at a slight advantage this week. But, this week has been particularly tough with seven day service work commitments contributing to me feeling slightly ‘pharmacy-overloaded’.
I began the week with gusto, using my evidence summary to map to cluster one – expert professional practice. I felt the majority of my evidence supported the competencies and also then overlapped with others later on in the APF. Thereby, by completing one entry and summary statement, I could map it multiple times to other sections with ease. I seemed to be inputting my entries at a decent pace; but as I continued my confidence decreased, and I started questioning whether I had mapped the evidence correctly and explained the impact to the level of detail required that was sufficient for assessors to mark my portfolio on submission. At this point Sue came to my rescue when she suggested that we should try and meet up to discuss our progress in person.
Sue and I talked through one example of each other’s evidence that we had mapped to the portfolio. Although both of us are experienced in giving feedback in various forms it was apparent that we both had difficulty applying this to our own work and critiquing the entry. In both cases we both felt each other’s impact statement could be improved and strengthened by adding in specific detail. I was glad that Sue and I managed to meet up as this gave me confidence that ‘I was not alone’.
At this point in the programme I felt it was appropriate to discuss with my RPS mentor the challenges I was facing and how to overcome those. We discussed the journey through the programme so far and my concerns. It was valuable voicing them out-loud and even though it was over the phone with someone I had not met before, I found our chat to be really helpful. I explained my thought processes of how I had thought about my evidence and then mapped some roles with lots of sub sections, therefore using it as one entry with lots of competencies. But where I had led on a large project that had strong evidence, I used it as a stand-alone entry which mapped to fewer competencies. The advice from my mentor was to: “Be bold”
As pharmacists we can look at every detail and decide that our evidence may lack validity or standing, and therefore think we perhaps could only meet ‘advanced stage one’. My mentor suggested looking at the descriptors of the evidences the other way round i.e. start with Mastery and then work my way down. I found this to be really thought provoking, as my meticulous nature has meant I started mapping from cluster one and competency one and stages in ascending order.
Week five has come to an end and although I have not accomplished all that I had wanted in terms of mapping the evidence. I now feel clearer in my mind about how to input the entries. As I write the impact statement I used the descriptors from the competencies to help explain how I achieved it. I now have all my entries added to the portfolio and I will continue to map the evidences next week.
I was apprehensive going into week five as I didn’t finish week four properly, and rightly so I’m afraid. The mapping is taking me a lot more time than I thought it would. The difficulty is in getting the right amount of information to describe the activity but leaving enough space to show the impact of my evidence. Amareen and I both wrote ours with that in mind but when we met and read each other’s we both realised that we hadn’t done it fully. It is always difficult to write about yourself and it’s the same here. This is where having a buddy really helps and we could have spent hours bouncing ideas off each other for each cluster but sadly we didn’t have the time. What we have decided though is that once we have finished, we will proof read each other’s to check we have demonstrated the impact each time.
Amareen and I approached it in different ways too. I decided to start with the research cluster as I thought this was the one I had least evidence for, so should finish it quickly and feel I was making progress! I have also decided to write most of the summaries once I have written the impact so I can see what I need to fit in. I used aspects from my CV as I put a fair amount of detail in there which has proved useful. We’ll see how that works this week!
Some hints for this stage are to refresh yourself of some of the earlier videos available on the RPS website as it is difficult to take everything in the first time you listen and you can fast forward over the bits you don’t need. The handbook can sometimes provide a bit more direction too where it describes the clusters in the APF guidance. I also discovered the help button on the left hand side of the e-portfolio as this clarifies some things. I discovered that minimally supports means you are an observer, supports mean you contributed and strongly supports that you led it. It’s also very helpful with the evidence category.
I have not yet heard back about my mentor but I am saving up questions. Having talked to Amareen about her discussion with her mentor I’ve been trying to “Be Bold” too. It still doesn’t feel right to state that I have “mastery” of something so I’m hoping my mentor will reassure me that I can justify it occasionally at least!
I’m heading into the next week feeling a little more like I can achieve this but very aware of the amount of time needed. Having the eight week programme is definitely a drive to keep going though, as is Amareen!