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Professional Development Framework:
Levels, Domains & Behaviors

The four Levels of nursing practice within the Professional Development Framework are based in part on the Benner Model of Knowledge and Skill Acquisition. 

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 identify.

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 Practice through Innovation and Research. Each domain contains Subheadings that further delineate that area of practice. The Domains and their subheadings are:

Clinical Skills & Knowledge - get details on this Domain

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

Therapeutic Relationships - get details on this Domain

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

Professional Relationships - get details on this Domain

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

Professional Development - get details on this Domain

  1. Self
  2. Contribution to others

Advancing Practice through Innovation & Research - get details on this Domain

  1. Innovation
  2. Research

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 E, increasingly advanced behaviors are evident within each domain. Per Contract Addendum D, Section B, 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.


Target Audience:UMHS Nurses | Author/Contact: Stephanie Minerath
Last reviewed: 12/2013