The role of practical wisdom in nurse manager practice: Why experience matters

Eloise Balasco Cathcart, Miriam Greenspan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To illustrate through the interpretation of one representative nurse manager's narrative how the methodology of practice articulation gives language to the ways practical wisdom develops in leadership practice and facilitates learning. Background: Patricia Benner's corpus of research has demonstrated that reflection on clinical narratives comes closer than other pedagogical methods to replicating and enhancing the experiential learning required for the development of practical wisdom. Method: Using Benner's methodology of practice articulation, 91 nurse managers wrote and read to a peer group a narrative of their lived experience in the role. The groups interpreted the narratives to extract the skilled knowledge and ethics embedded in the practice of the nurse manager authors. One narrative was chosen for this paper because it is a particularly clear exemplar of how practical wisdom develops in nurse manager practice. Results: Articulating and reflecting on experiential learning led to an understanding of how practical wisdom developed in one nurse manager's practice. Conclusion: Interpretation of the narrative of one nurse manager illustrated how reflection on a complex ethical dilemma was a source of character development for the individual and the peer group. Implications for nursing management: Describing and interpreting how practical wisdom develops for individual nurse managers can be a source of learning for the narrative author and other role incumbents who need to make sound decisions and take prudent action in ethically challenging situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)964-970
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Benner
  • Coaching-in-context
  • Experiential learning
  • Narrative
  • Nurse manager practice
  • Reflective practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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