Patricia Benner’s Stages of Learning and Skills Acquisition

Patricia Benner’s research describes how nurses develop skills and an understanding of patient care over time through both education and experience in caring for patients.  Benner describes how beginning nurses progress through five distinct levels; novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.  According to Benner (2001), nurses move from the novice level of no experience to the next stage of advanced beginner, which demonstrates acceptable performance after having considerable experience with caring for patients. At the advanced beginner level, experience in actual patient care enables the nurse to recognize meaningful elements in the individual patient care situation and use those elements to guide care. Students are expected to be at the advanced beginner stage at the time of program completion.

Student-centered nursing education is best achieved when educators meet adult students at their level while creating an environment of mutual respect and collaboration in the educational process. Learning is an interactive process by which the educator and the learner share responsibility in obtaining successful student outcomes.  Through the Practical Nursing Program’s use of the theories and research identified above, students transition from novice to advanced beginner and demonstrate clinical judgment necessary for safe entry-level practice in today’s complex healthcare environment.

Benner, P. (2001). From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice. Prentice-Hall.
Benner, P., Tanner, C., & Chesla, C. (2009). Expertise in nursing Practice: Caring, clinical judgement, and ethics (2nd Ed.), Springer Publishing.
McEwen, M. & Wills, E. (2006). Theoretical Basis for Nursing (2nd Ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Moore, K (2012).  Effective instructional strategies: From theory to practice (3rd ed.), Sage Publications.
Tanner, C. (2006). Thinking like a nurse: A researched-based model of clinical judgement in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 45, (6), 204-211.