Beyond expertise: theory, practice and the reflexive practitioner

J Clin Nurs. 1997 Mar;6(2):93-7.


This paper reconsiders Benner's book From Novice to Expert, in which the expert is portrayed as a reflective practitioner who works intuitively, drawing almost unconsciously on a repertoire of context-specific paradigm cases. In the light of more recent writings on informal, practice-based theory, it is suggested that there is a sixth level beyond expertise which is characterized by mindful practice and informal theory building. At this level, the practitioner constructs informal theory out of practice, applies that theory back into practice, and reflexively modifies the theory as a result of the changed clinical situation. Seen in this way, theory and practice are two parts of the same process, and the theory-practice gap is closed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Models, Nursing*
  • Nursing Theory*
  • Thinking*