Benner’s Nursing Theory “From Novice to Expert”


The nursing theory From Novice to Expert by Patricia Benner is among the easiest to comprehend. The author presents five levels of nursing experience. They are the novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. These levels demonstrate the progress in gaining the experience. Benner suggests the idea that a nurse may get competence and knowledge from practice, without studying the theory. The previous experiences are summarized and finally lead to becoming an expert. Benner’s theory gets reflections in some contemporary researches in nursing worldwide.

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Adaptation and Validation of the Clinical Nursing Expertise Survey to the Portuguese Nursing Population

The article by Amaral and Ferreira (2014) researches “instrument for measuring clinical expertise in Nursing for the Portuguese nurse population” (2). They consider the experience and expertise of a nurse one of the decisive factors for the care quality. The book From Novice to Expert by Patricia Benner is a component of a theoretical framework of the research. According to Benner (as cited in Amaral & Ferreira, 2014, p.4), a feature that distinguishes an experienced nurse is the capability to make critical decisions in complicated situations.

Benner stated that several years of work experience in similar or the same conditions might result in incompetence. Still, the experience does not guarantee becoming an expert. Benner (as cited in Amaral & Ferreira, 2014, p.6) mentions that experience and expertise are related, still different concepts. A characteristic feature of an expert nurse is the ability to react in every situation due to the experience and the skill to think critically.

The methodology of the Clinical Nursing Expertise Survey (CVES) based on Benner’s roles and functions. During the research, the nurses were supposed to report on their ability in each of the 34 roles and functions. The average age of the respondents was 35.3 years. Their average experience was 12 years. The research revealed a statistically significant difference in CNES results of the specialized nurses, which was higher. In general, the research proved that the Portuguese CNES is reliable and can be used to assess nurses’ competence.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice and Role Assimilation: Strategies for Success

The work by Purdue and Roberts (2014) is related to the programs of Doctor of nursing degree. It touches the problem of role assimilation when the masters of science in nursing, who are already experienced specialists, have to begin as a novice after graduating from the doctor of nursing program. It addresses Benner who (as cited in Purdue & Roberts, 2014, p.110) stated that “a nurse who has reached an expert level in their role as a nursing professional can be considered a novice again in the presence of an unfamiliar situation or new role.”

The stages from novice to expert suggested by Benner and the individual progress are evident in the adjustment to the new DNP role. She has adjusted the model of skill acquisition to a nursing profession. The authors focus on Benner’s study in clinical practice which considered “both practical (“know-how”) and theoretical (“know that”) knowledge” (Purdue & Roberts, 2014, p.111).

The idea of the article is to stress that graduates should not obtain new roles hoping to be experts from the beginning. They will have to pass the same development stages and gain experience. If the students are aware of this perspective, it will reduce the stress of the role change.

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On the whole, the analyzed works prove that the concepts of Patricia Benner’s theory are applied in contemporary researches. The ideas expressed more than thirty years ago apply to scientific research. Besides, they are suitable for modern education practices.


Amaral, A.F.S., & Ferreira, P.L. (2014). Adaptation and validation of the Clinical Nursing Expertise Survey to the Portuguese nursing population. Escola Anna Nery, 18(3), 1-18. Web.

Purdue, G., & Roberts, B.R. (2014). The Doctor of nursing practice and role assimilation: Strategies for success. The Journal of Doctoral Nursing Practice, 7(2), 109-113.

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"Benner's Nursing Theory "From Novice to Expert"." StudyCorgi, 12 Nov. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Benner's Nursing Theory "From Novice to Expert"." November 12, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Benner's Nursing Theory "From Novice to Expert"." November 12, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Benner's Nursing Theory "From Novice to Expert"." November 12, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Benner's Nursing Theory "From Novice to Expert"'. 12 November.

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