It is possible to state that the theory reflects clarity of thought process. Thus, Benner’s theory is based on description of five particular stages of development (Gentile, 2012). It is easy to follow the stages that have been widely used in many theories. The theory is quite consistent as the stages of development reflect certain skills that are acquired and accumulated during each stage. For instance, novice nurses have little experiences and strong adherence to things learnt in medical schools. During the four other stages, the nurse loses his/her attention to conventions and relies on own experience as well as intuition. The theorist consistently states that nurses acquire new skills, experiences and develop the necessary intuition to be effective professionals.
It is necessary to add that the theory addresses semantic and structural clarity and consistency as well. As for semantic clarity, all criteria are well-defined and very clear. The terms used are explained and employed appropriately. There are no complicated terms or concepts or excessive verbiage. The criteria and terms are also used consistently. For example, such major terms as novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert nurse are employed consistently. Structural clarity of the theory is also apparent as the stages are well defined and concepts are interconnected. As has been mentioned above, the theory involves five stages that are clearly defined.
It is possible to state that the theory explains the logical congruence of the internal structure as well. Each stage is a continuation of the previous one. Benner tries to explain all stages and their major characteristics.
At the same time, it is important to add that the theory has certain strengths and weaknesses. Benner’s theory can be applicable in many cases and it is possible to note that it has broad application. For instance, Gentile (2012) provide an account of applying the theory to infusion nursing. It is also possible to apply it to other settings. The theory is easily understood as it can be characterized by structural and semantic clarity and consistency. The theory is rather relevant to practice as it can help identify characteristics of nursing professionals and develop specific strategies that can be utilized to develop the necessary skills.
However, the theory lacks for evidence and empirical data (Gobet & Chassy, 2008). Gobet and Chassy (2008) note that sometimes the criteria developed are not reliable enough. More so, development of any criteria and stages in developmental psychology has proved to be a difficult and sometimes impossible matter. Furthermore, the stage of expert nurse is the most questionable. It includes two dimensions: implicit and explicit. Benner states that implicit dimension (intuition) can be achieved through explicit dimension (training and instructions). At the same time, the data provided to support this are insufficient. The data are often qualitative. Therefore, it is unclear whether the results can be the same when the theory is applied in different settings.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Benner’s theory is consistent and it has structural and semantic clarity. At the same time, it lacks for empirical data and sufficient evidence. Although it can be applicable in many settings, the theory’s efficiency can be doubtful due to lack of literature and empirical data. Therefore, it is crucial to implement research to provide the necessary evidence to support the relevance of the theory.
Gentile, D.L. (2012). Applying the novice-to-expert model to infusion nursing. Infusion Nurses Society, 35(2), 101-107.
Gobet, F., & Chassy, P. (2008). Towards an alternative to Benner’s theory of expert intuition in nursing: A discussion paper. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(1), 129-139.