The St. Louis Children's Hospital/BJC HealthCare Professional Nurse Development Program (PNDP) promotes the lifelong pursuit of expertise of the clinical nurse.  The overall goal of the program is to continue to provide high quality nursing care and opportunities for clinical nurses to experience professional growth and advancement.

The PNDP is based on the work of Dr. Patricia Benner.  In the PNDP, all five of Benner’s levels of skill acquisition are recognized: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.  The criteria become progressively more complex and demanding as the level of expertise increases.  Each level requires a defined amount of experience and knowledge. 

Evidence of the nurse’s performance is further demonstrated through exemplars which are written illustrations of the nurse’s professional practice.  These exemplars represent the nurse’s contribution to patients’ or families’ welfare and reflect the nurse’s clinical knowledge and leadership.

As part of the evaluation of the nurse’s professional development, Benner’s seven domains further indicate his or her competence.  These competencies within each domain are evaluated as met or not met and demonstrate to the nurse and his or her manager or mentor that knowledge and clinical application for each level is present.

All staff nurses are eligible for the program after one year at SLCH. In 2018 a new tier was added to the PNDP to compensate the master’s prepared nurse (MSN) who continues to work in the staff nurse role.  All participants in the PNDP are compensated financially as well as recognized at an annual award ceremony. 

For more information on the PNDP Program at St. Louis Children's Hospital contact: Lisa Steurer, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC at