Patricia Benner

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This essay will outline Patricia Benner’s nursing model novice to expert also included, will be the development of the model. In addition, an evaluation and discussion of the major components of this model that consists of five levels, first the novice which will be discussed in detail, second the advanced beginner, third the competent, and fourth the proficient, finally the expert. Furthermore, examples of how the strengths surrounding this model assist the nurse to build on the levels that help them to reach their potential of excellence also, some critics indicate weaknesses of this model they appear to consider important. For the purpose of this essay, the primary focus will be the role of the mentor/tutor in relation to the student nurse and applying this to my first clinical experience on the surgical ward. The mentor has invaluable knowledge to help the student nurse build on their skills, utilizing the mentor’s knowledge and Benner’s five levels allows the student opportunities of becoming the expert. Illustrations relating to this are in the examples of my first clinical placement on the surgical ward. This clinical placement will express the benefits of good mentoring for a student nurse.

Benner, Tanner, Chesla (2009) describe this model, novice to expert as a model that is progressive and measurable over time because of the performance changes that occur for the nurse in specific situations. Benner’s model has five levels the nurse builds on to become an expert, the novice and advanced beginner levels, the competent and proficient levels then finally the expert level. However, Ericsson and Smith (as cited in Gobet & Chassy, n.d.) maintain that Benner’s documentation of the five levels of novice to expert are not adequately documented. For example, the measures Benner uses in relation to years do not coincide with the expert level. Furthermore, the development of this model has occurred in many countries within nursing, also other fields of practice, for example, education and occupational therapy. This model has also contributed to the expansion of many practicum and orientation programs that support the novice through the levels to reach expert. Benner utilised the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (achievements), she also used narratives from nurses to compile her model, novice to expert and applied this theory to nursing (Benner, 1984). Powers and Knapp (2005, p.2) define skill acquisition as “…the intuitive aspects of skill… and clinical judgement that are derived from experience.” However, Altman (2007) argues, that Benner’s theory is better utilised as a philosophy because the models not established as a theory. Altman found this essential when applying Benner’s theory to skill acquisition.

First, Benner et al (2009) describes a novice as a student nurse in their first year of training. Benner (1984) goes on to say that, a student nurse conforms to rules, helping the student achieve the next level, according to Gobet and Cassy (n.d.), these rules are context-free. For example, the novice nurse learns the method of taking the patients vital signs in a simulated environment. This task is possible to learn without having clinical experience because the information shown is obvious to the student (abstract principles) (Benner, 1984). Benner et al (2009), indicate the tutor has an obligation to the student to explain descriptive accounts of situations in a manner the student can understand by giving, distinct boundaries and guidelines furthermore, this will help guide the students training because the student nurse has not acquired the knowledge gained from concrete experience (Benner, 1984). However, Benner et al (2009) express that an adult nursing student at this level will have some concrete experiences to reflect on aiding the nurse when making decisions and reaching a conclusion based on concrete events (Benner et al, 2009). For instance, having previous experience with caregiving and being an...
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