Patricia Benner: The Theory of Nursing Laniece C. Leon Chamberlain College of Nursing CCN 100: Success Seminar Patricia Benner: The Theory of Nursing Dr. Patricia Benner is a very accomplished nursing theorist. She was born on May 10, 1955 to parents Ethel and Donald Brushett (www. yahoo. com). She went to Pasadena College and received her BSN. She then received her Master’s Degree in Medical Surgical Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco and went to get her Ph. D. in Stress, Coping and Health from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Benner is currently a professor of nursing in the Department of Social and Behavioral Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. She has written nine books, and received many awards for her accomplishments. She is an internationally known researcher and lecturer on health, stress and coping, skill acquisition and ethics and has had great influence on the world of nursing. Theory Dr. Benner introduced the theory that expert nurses develop skills and understanding of patient care over time through a sound educational base and a multitude of experiences. The premise of this theory is that the development of knowledge on applied disciplines such as medicine and nursing is composed of the extension of practical knowledge through research and understanding the “know-how” of clinical experience. It states that nursing requires procedural or scientific knowledge, techne, and the advancement of knowledge through practice and experience, phronesis. Before the publication of her most widely known book From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice, there was no real characterization of the learning process of nurses. Using a model called The Dreyfus Model of Skill and Acquisition developed by Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus and applying it to nursing, Dr. Benner developed a five-stage process that a nurse goes through on the journey to developing expertise in the field: The Novice Stage, The Advanced Beginner Stage, The Competent Stage, The Proficient Stage, and The Expert Stage. Each stage builds on the other as the nurse gains experience and learns. The Novice Stage According to Dr. Benner, a nurse in this stage is completely dependent on the rules or plans set forth by their instructor. They have very little situational perception and no discretionary judgment. Their instructors break down the task environment into “context-free” features that a beginning nurse can recognize without the having had any experience in the field of nursing. The instructor provides rules that the “novice” nurse needs to use in order to draw a conclusion or determine the action necessary based on the facts of the situation that can be recognized without prior experience.
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