Patricia Benner (1995)
Patricia Benner was a contemporary theorist who is most noted for her research in nursing. Her research has received many rewards because it has contributed strongly to nursing and changed the way that nursing was done. She is also a prolific writer in her field.
The major premise of her work is knowledge. She wants to “discover and describe” the role that knowledge has in the nursing practice. She calls her work “articulated research” and it distinguishes a difference between practical and theoretical knowledge (Tomey and Alligood, 2006, p. 142). According to Benner: knowledge development in a “practical discipline” consists of extending practical knowledge (know-how) through theory-based scientific investigations and through the chartings of the existent “know-how” developed through clinical experience in the practice (Tomey and Alligood, 2006, p. 142).
Although this idea may seem common sense, it is the basis for all of the work that Benner has produced. She sees that knowing how to do something is different than the theory of scientific event and often practical knowledge can be more important than the theoretical framework that has been taught. Practical knowledge can also be developed before the scientific theories can be born.
Benner saw that different clinical settings could create many different clinical experiences. In her view clinical experience is what makes new knowledge available to the practicing nurse and this information creates better nurses.
Benner later met Hubert Dreyfus who studied phenomenology and she adapted much of his work to the nursing profession. The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition became the model for Benner’s Novice to Expert Theory. Benner has published nine books, including From Novice to Expert, Nursing Pathways for Patient Safety, and The Primacy of Caring. She has also published many articles. In 1995, she was awarded the 15th Helen Nahm Research Lecture Award from the University of...