New online program helps all USF Health students track academic experience

Corralling the details of every college activity, project and job has been greatly simplified for USF Health students with the unveiling of the new USF Health Student Portfolios.

The online software helps students from throughout USF Health collect information about every degree, award, presentation, job, research project, and activity while they are at USF Health, helping them create a personal bio sketch and CV that grows across time.

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In addition to building a resume, the goal of USF Health Student Portfolios is to help students have an interactive conversation with mentors about their activities and goals, said Melissa Metzger, director of Academic Technologies and Digital Media for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“It’s a place where students can have a back-and-forth with their mentors and counselors and fine-tune their portfolio as they progress to graduation, a process that, for medical students, can help them build the letters they use to apply for medical residencies,” Metzger said.

Another plus, Metzger said, is that the interaction is completely confidential because students and mentors are viewing the shared content via the secure Portfolios website.

“It’s all behind a log-in, so the virtual assistance is private and confidential, which isn’t the case with emails and attachments,” she said.

In addition to tracking academic experience and using the data to create customized and in-depth resumes and bio-sketches, Portfolios is accessible beyond graduation, allowing USF Health graduates to continue building on their career journeys.

Programs like Portfolios are becoming common among universities, Metzger said, especially medical schools, which will soon be required to have them by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME, the accrediting body for all U.S. medical schools) to have a system in place for students to evaluate career options and apply for residency programs.

“The good news is that we are way ahead of the requirement that is coming from the LCME,” Metzger said.

Portfolios was started in 2012 as a pilot project in the College of Public Health (COPH), in collaboration with Deanna Wathington, MD, MPH, associate dean for COPH Academic and Student Affairs, and David Hogeboom, MSPH, statistical data analyst at COPH. The goal was for COPH students to build a strong portfolio based on their degree work as they progressed toward graduation.

Portfolios quickly became the go-to place to track academic experience and has been expanded to now include all USF Health students, said Anne Jones, project manager for USF Health Information Systems, which designed and implemented Portfolios.

“A program like this is vital for student success in today’s academic settings,” Jones said. “Having a place to interact with mentors and accumulate countless details that can then be customized to fit every career need is invaluable.”

Hands-on experience with the program proved the point, as well.

“Student portfolios are a means of building your career visibility in a focused manner, avoiding duplication of efforts,” said Samuel Matos-Bastidas, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health.

“The Graduate Student Portfolio is a helpful tool to track relevant information throughout your graduate program,” said Kristin Steffen, a master’s student in the College of Public Health. “It helps me to know what competencies I am mastering as I progress through the Master’s program here in the College of Public Health.”

And the expansion to every USF Health student greater opportunities for lining up careers.

“Our curriculum reinforces the concept of developing a professional portfolio to be used as a networking tool in residency showcases, professional events and job opportunities,” said José G. León-Burgos, second-year student in the College of Pharmacy, who helped USF Health IS test the Portfolios expansion. “I think this digital portfolio will streamline the process of keeping our portfolio updated and I know that my colleagues will be very excited to start using this program.”

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Mary Striby, USF Health IS assistant director of application development, was part of the team who unveiled Portfolios  to USF Health students at the grand opening of The WELL, the new student services center for USF Health students.

Some of the key features of USF Health Student Portfolios include:
• Pools all of your information to create a strong and in-depth CV.
• Allows for info from beyond the classroom, like community service, jobs, and outside activities.
• Data merges into Word so it can be rearranged to customize as needed.
• Accessible by advisors, mentors and counselors via log-in to track program progression and offer suggestions.
• Offers full access beyond graduation to continue adding career details.
• Merges with GEMS so USF teaching and research employment can be easily added.
• Offers flexibility in reporting for customized bio sketches.
• Uploads event attendance with a swipe of ID card, which instantly fills the calendar section of Portfolios.

There is no registering; every student with current USF Health account can login and start inputting information to build an academic experience portfolio.
Visit now – Portfolios.health.usf.edu

Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications