Although many experienced nurses consider themselves as experts in their fields of practice, it is important to keep in mind that they, too, become novices when they encounter a new clinical challenge or situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Benner’s (1984) theory, From Novice to Expert, is an excellent nursology theory that can guide clinical practice in the context of current health care challenges related to Covid-19. The theory includes five stages–novice, advanced beginner, competence, proficiency, and expertise. As nurses pass through these various levels of proficiency, they develop holistic clinical knowledge influenced by nursology education, experience, and intuition (Benner, 1984).
The purpose of this blog is to summarize an exemplar of a “novice to expert” nursology educational strategy developed in response to the Covid-pandemic Global Nursing Education exemplar. The exemplar is about a non-profit 501c3 organization, Dr. Gabone QHSC (Quality Healthcare Solutions and Consulting) Inc., which served global novice nurses experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases in their clinical practice. These novice nurses, especially those assigned to “Covid-19” units experienced common challenges reported in the literature such as exposure and anxiety related to the lack of personal protective equipment and fear of the unknown (Chen, Lai, & Tsay, 2020) . As a result, they relied heavily on emerging knowledge from public health experts as well as clinical expertise from frontline workers who had already experienced the impact and management of the disease in their practice settings. Hence, to better serve the novice nurses, the organization assembled teams of interprofessional Covid-19 frontline healthcare workers from various Covid-19 affected areas to share knowledge about how they utilized their highly skilled analytical problem solving abilities, experience, and education to grasp the emerging situation, events, and behaviors via Zoom meetings.
Six educational sessions were offered as resources to heighten the opportunities for novice nurses around the world, in particular targeting Tanzanian nursologists. The topics covered included:
- Challenges of Covid-19 in nursing practice across various practice settings
- Typical nursing care shifts for Covid-19 patients
- Medication administration and medical protocols
- Infectious disease management
- Effective use of PPE to prevent spread of COVID-19
- Effective coping strategies to promote nurses’ individual and family well-being
- Creating a culture of safety
- Challenges faced by prospective health care workers.
As the frontline workers described their expert practice, they widened the novice nursologists’ perspectives and acceptance of actual and potential challenges and situations they might encounter in their practice settings. For example, the meetings provided demonstrations of how nursologists are interconnected and how they face similar challenges such as lack of PPE and fear of becoming infected. In addition, some nursologists shared ways they reused supplies while ensuring safety and efficiency for patient care.
Overall, the feedback from the participants was positive. The online mode of delivery included interactive elements such as chats, polling, and emails to facilitate discussions to move beyond the content elements and also facilitate experiential learning to develop expertise. Future recommendations for effective online global education delivery and programming include consideration of delivery time for synchronous presentations, as well as access to technology and internet service in resource poor countries and communities.
As we move forward, I call upon nursology scholars worldwide to utilize Benner’s (1984) Novice to Expert theory to examine how the lived experiences of frontline nurses during the Covid-19 pandemic facilitate knowledge development among novice nurses in clinical practice. Questions to ponder are: 1) How and what did frontline nursolgists learn during the Covid-19 pandemic? 2) What new nursing knowledge was generated by the frontline nursologists as they became the experts? 3) How can we utilize the new knowledge in nursology education and practice to manage future outbreaks/pandemics?
Please feel free to share your comments to this blog.
Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert. Addison‐Wesley .
Chen, S-C., Lai, Y-H., & Tasay, S-L. (2020). Nursing perspectives on the impacts of COVID-19. Journal of Nursing Research, 28(3), 5 pages. http://doi.org./10.1097/NRJ.0000000000000389