Benners Theory

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• Dr Patricia Benner introduced the concept that expert nurses develop skills and understanding of patient care over time through a sound educational base as well as a multitude of experiences.
• She proposed that one could gain knowledge and skills ("knowing how") without ever learning the theory ("knowing that").
• She further explains that the development of knowledge in applied disciplines such as medicine and nursing is composed of the extension of practical knowledge (know how) through research and the characterization and understanding of the "know how" of clinical experience.
• She conceptualizes in her writing about nursing skills as experience is a prerequisite for becoming an expert.
• Patricia E. Benner, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN is a Professor Emerita at the University of California, San Francisco.
• BA in Nursing - Pasadena College/Point Loma College
• MS in Med/Surg nursing from UCSF
• PhD -1982 from UC Berkeley
• 1970s - Research at UCSF and UC Berkeley
• Has taught and done research at UCSF since 1979
• Published 9 books and numerous articles
• Published ‘Novice to Expert Theory’ in 1982
• Received Book of the Year from AJN in 1984,1990,1996, 2000
• Her web address is at:
• Her profile can be obtained at
She described 5 levels of nursing experience as;
1. Novice
2. Advanced beginner
3. Competent
4. Proficient
5. Expert
• Beginner with no experience
• Taught general rules to help perform tasks
• Rules are: context-free, independent of specific cases, and applied universally
• Rule-governed behavior is limited and inflexible
• Ex. “Tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.”
Advanced Beginner
• Demonstrates acceptable performance
• Has gained prior experience in actual situations to…...

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