Professional Development Framework

Levels, Domains & Behaviors


Framework Behaviors

Guide for Self-Reflection

The five Levels of nursing practice within the Professional Development Framework are based in part on the Benner Model of Knowledge and Skill Acquisition with our 2018 Contractual Agreement, Level F is included for nurses who have earned a master's degree.

There are five Domains of Nursing Practice described in the Professional Development Framework: Clinical Skills and Knowledge; Therapeutic Relationships; Professional Relationships; Professional Development; and Advancing Evidence Based Practice through Innovation and Research. Each domain contains Subheadings that further delineate that area of practice.

Behaviors describe the expected performance of a nurse at each Level of the Framework. Behaviors are described for each Domain of Nursing Practice. When viewed from Level A across the grid to Level F, increasingly advanced behaviors are evident within each domain. Per Contract Addendum D, Section A, 8): Advancement will be made on meeting a preponderance of all behaviors in total.  However, the employee must meet a preponderance of behaviors in the Clinical Skills and Knowledge Domain.


Level A

An advanced beginner - the new graduate nurse with less than 12 months of experience

Level C

A fully competent nurse who provides care to a full range of patients seen in his/her practice setting, who has begun to make contributions on the unit.

Level D

A proficient nurse who provides individualized care to a full range of patients seen in the practice setting, while also making contributions to the unit and profession. Develops professional goals and demonstrates attention to own professional development.

Level E

An expert nurse who provides highly individualized care to a full range of patients even in the most complex situations, while also making significant contributions within and often beyond the unit as well as the profession.  Is goal driven around own professional development with clear evidence of advancing professional identity.

Level F

A master’s degree prepared nurse whose practice is driven by evidence and patient outcomes based on the patient population and allows for critical evaluation of work in the field. Pursues learning as a journey of ongoing personal development and excellence in and beyond chosen discipline. Consistently role models and infuses evidence based knowledge into practice.


Clinical Skills & Knowledge


  1. Nursing Process
  2. Technology
  3. Policy/Procedures/Protocols
  4. Promoting Culture of Safety
  5. Documentation
  6. Patient/Family Education

Therapeutic Relationships


  1. Therapeutic Communication
  2. Empowerment - nurse, patient, family
  3. Compassion
  4. Advocacy and Ethics
  5. Valuing of Diversity

Professional Relationships


  1. Collaboration with Health Care Team
  2. Valuing Teams/Teamwork
  3. Delegation
  4. Valuing of Diversity

Professional Development


  1. Self
  2. Contribution to others

Advancing Evidence Based Practice through Innovation and Research


  1. Evidence Based Practice and Research
Guide for Self-Reflection

As you contemplate applying for advancement in Framework, one of the first things you will want to do is take some time for self-reflection. Begin the process by printing a copy of the Self Assessment Tool.

As you read through the document, find the behaviors that most closely describe what you do over the course of daily practice. Be honest with yourself. You may find that you need to go through the document more than once, even on different days.

Think about what happened today or this week. Think about your most memorable patients and experiences. Think about what makes you proud. Think about what stories you might tell about your practice and experiences.

As you work your way through the Framework grid, you will quite possibly find that the behaviors which describe your individual practice are scattered over several levels. You may even surprise yourself. Circle the ones that you feel best describe you. You may find that looking at the behaviors helps you set goals for yourself for the future.

When you have an idea of what Framework Level most aligns with your practice and where you believe you can demonstrate meeting the vast majority of behaviors, go to the Application Portfolio section on this website and look at the application requirements. Be sure to read through the checklist

As you create portfolio elements and gather required documents, we encourage you to consider contacting the coach (see the Coach section on the Tools & Resources page) for feedback, support and encouragement.


Contact Us

We invite your thoughts, feedback, questions and comments related to the Professional Development Framework and Role Specific Advancement Model! 

Please contact Mary Anne Brancheau, BSN, RN-BC at
(734) 232-1091 or email

Our Framework/RSAM Office Location
University of Michigan Health System
Professional Development and Education
300 N. Ingalls St.
6th Floor B Wing, Rm. 6B04
Ann Arbor, MI. 48109-5436

Thank you!















Target Audience: UMHS Nursing | Author/Contact: Mary Anne Brancheau

Web Publisher/Designer/Developer: April Stingo | Reviewed: 02/22/2018