Nursing Career Development

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Benner's Novice to Expert Nursing Theory

Benner’s Novice to Expert Nursing Theory is based on the belief that best nurses acquire more skills with time. In developing these skills, education and experience are the major contributors, giving the nurse an opportunity to get an understanding of providing high-quality patient care. Benner believes that nurses acquire knowledge and skills that impact their competency without realizing it. She refers to this idea as the “Knowing How Knowing That”(Benner, 1984). She also believes that the development process is also applicable in other disciplines in the medical field. Benner’s theory suggests that anyone can go through specific stages of development that would enable them to advance from novice to expert if granted prior time. Patricia Benner explains nursing as a process that goes through five essential steps to produce expertise, hence it is a recommendation each nurse goes through these five steps to become expertise even if they are unaware of the progression (Benner & Wrubel, 1989). In the Novice to Expert Theory, Benner suggested the following steps:

Step 1: Novice

These nurses lack experience regarding the work they are to perform hence they rely on instructions and specific rules to deliver performance. The instructions are content-free allowing for universal application (Benner, 1984). The novices lack experiences in the practical application of the regulations, could be persons in the first year making clinical trials.

Step 2: Beginner

In this stage, most of the nurses are those who recently graduated on their first employment. They could also include nurses with a minimum of two years’ experience but without a formal education. Beginners can understand circumstances, they act based on their have knowledge and skills and can work without much supervision because they have personal experience to rely upon.

Step 3: Competence

The stage allows for the formalization of education and knowledge into practical work. They have skills in the particular organization, readily recognize processes and provide proper, appropriate care to the patients (Benner, 1984). Most nurses in this stage are after increasing their flexibility and speed in conducting their duties having a feeling of mastery to the contingencies of nursing.

Step 4: Proficiency

Nurses in this stage begin embracing the bigger picture, upon the realization that they can also be proactive in certain strands of care. From experience, they can tell the kind of events to expect in a particular circumstance and the appropriate responses to such events (Benner & Wrubel, 1989). The holistic understanding can bring a better improvement to the nurse’s decision-making ability reducing the workload because the nurse can identify crucial situations and concentrate on them. They rely on maxims that give a direction on what should be taken into account.

Step 5: The Expert

The expert nurse does not rely on rules, maxims and guidelines to understand a situation. The nurse has numerous experiences and has an inherent grasp of situation hence does not have to go through wasteful alternatives to diagnose a patient since they have an excellent understanding of events (Benner, 1984). When asked why they perform in a particular masterful way, the answer would just be, “Because it was right that way.”

My Career Progression

In my career progression, I consider myself a competent nurse after completing my nursing course, having been in the field of employment for a better period giving me a good mastery of what needs to be done. However, developing to be a competent nurse required much sacrifice, commitments, and more studies. First, I had made a career plan. I identified what I wanted to do, why I wanted to do it, where I wanted to work. My career plan assisted me in keeping myself in line with what I wanted to do, which was nursing, and it helped me develop a passion for the same. Secondly, I established a vision to my career, I always analyzed my career progress, I identified the critical skills I had learned, the tasks I did most frequently and the unique experiences I got in my career path. With this I recognized my strengths, personal drives, limiting factors to my career and took appropriate actions.

My Drive to Career Development

My third drive to career development was education. In my college, I took a nursing course; the classroom knowledge gave me the confidence in preparation for the future roles in my career. Finishing my degree simple gave me a head start to develop my career to achieve competency. My fourth drive to career development was volunteer work. Working as a volunteer in providing nursing services at a local dispensary helped me in developing my interests and abilities. I developed more skills hence at the time of my employment I had a good mastery of my duties; I could recognize circumstances and accomplish tasks with accuracy providing better care to the patients.

My Plan for Career Progression

I would like to progress in my career and gain expertise in the nursing profession. My first step would be identifying a mentor, either, my supervisor or an expert nurse so we can discuss on skill development, expertise, experience, career paths, and opportunities so that I can develop my career to become an expert nurse. Secondly, I would network, introducing myself and expanding my network to create new ideas and ways of thinking, share my nursing experiences, develop my skills, finding sources of support and increasing my awareness.


Benner, P. (1984). FROM NOVICE TO EXPERT. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 84(12), 1480. doi:10.1097/00000446-198412000-00027

Benner, P. E. (1984). FROM NOVICE TO EXPERT EXCELLENCE AND POWER IN CLINICAL NURSING PRACTICE. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 84(12), 1479. doi:10.1097/00000446-198412000-00025

Benner, P. E., & Wrubel, J. (1989). The primacy of caring: Stress and coping in health and illness. Addison-Wesley/Addison Wesley Longman.

October 13, 2023

Health Life Profession


Nursing Work

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