Using a Blog to Build an Educational Portfolio in Academic Medicine

What is an "educational portfolio"?

Let me explain. I am an academic hospitalist at the Cleveland Clinic. The goal of our section is to be the best academic hospitalist group in country. "Academic" means that we devote a significant amount of our time to research and teaching. This time has to be accounted for and for that purpose each of us builds an educational portfolio -- a collection of research ideas, projects, presentations, manuscripts and published articles. A blog can be the perfect solution to building an electronic educational portfolio.

Collecting your research ideas (and asking for feedback) is actually a very valuable exercise not dependent on your current position -- a medical student, resident, academic or private practice physician. Medicine is all about life-long learning, isn't it?

How to use a blog to build an educational portfolio?

All blogs place a time stamp on the posts and are in a reverse chronological order, thus placing the newest ideas on top. Reading a recent Scoble post, I realized that Google makes it really easy to find what you have written weeks or even months ago: just search for a particular topic adding your blog name to it: example. Scoble's example is naturally not related to medicine at all but the idea is what is important there:

One of the first things I learned about blogging back in 2000 was it is an awesome way to stick things into Google. If you find a new restaurant, for instance, and they don’t yet exist in Google, if you write about it on your blog invariably it’ll be there within a week.

I regularly write about things for the SOLE purpose of putting them on Google. Same thing with my link blog.

It’s very easy to pull them back out, too. Just add your blog’s name to a Google search.

For instance, I remember I wrote about a coffee place in Redmond. Forget the name? Just ask Google for it back out. This works consistently well.

You can choose whether to make you blog accessible to everyone (recommended, since it invites feedback) or confidential. Currently, the best and easiest service to start a blog seems to be, owned by Google.

Related reading:

"One of the best decisions I’ve made in my career was to start a blog and a wiki, leaving a paper trail of ideas"
The power of blogging on Google. Scobleizer.
Blogs Are Increasingly Venues for Scholarship. Open Medicine Blog, 01/2008.
Developing a virtual personal network. BMJ Career Focus 2007;334:13-15.
Web 2.0 in Medicine 2006-2007 (PowerPoint file).
Feature: 5 Reasons to Use WordPress as CMS. BloggingPro, 2007.
How To Use Your Blog To Make 2008 Your Best Year Ever!
Video presentations: Novel concepts and easy-to-use web tools for researchers. European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 2006.
Blogs as Web-Based Portfolios Part 2. Thinking Stick, 2010.
Blogs as Web-Based Educational Portfolios - free eBook PDF
As A Busy Physician, Why Do I Even Bother Blogging? - Excellent summary.
Beautiful example of how blogs can disseminate medical information much more efficiently than journals, NEJM included (

Note: After working at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University as a Clinical Assistant Professor for Medicine for 3 years, I moved to Creighton University to complete an Allergy and Immunology fellowship. I now work as an Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. This blog post was written during my work at the Cleveland Clinic.


  1. You're right. I've been maintaining a Hungarian medical blog for a long time and my only partner has always been the Google. And now, I have more visitors than in Scienceroll...

    By the way, I use Wordpress and love it.

  2. You have a better control of your blog by changing the template -- something that you cannot do with a blog currently, and this is why I think is a better platform. This is aside from the fact that Google is a much larger (and more stable) company.

  3. What specific advice would you give college students in developing an educational portfolio to use in getting a job?

  4. A piece of advice here: