Helping novice nurses make effective clinical decisions: The situated clinical decision-making framework

Mary Gillespie, Barbara L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The nature of novice nurses' clinical decision-making has been well documented as linear, based on limited knowledge and experience in the profession, and frequently focused on single tasks or problems. Theorists suggest that, with sufficient experience in the clinical setting, novice nurses will move from reliance on abstract principles to the application of concrete experience and to view a clinical situation within its context and as a whole. In the current health care environment, novice nurses frequently work with few clinical supports and mentors while facing complex patient situations that demand skilled decision-making. The Situated Clinical Decision-Making Framework is presented for use by educators and novice nurses to support development of clinical decision-making. It provides novice nurses with a tool that'a) assists them in making decisions; b) can be used to guide retrospective reflection on decision-making processes and outcomes; c) socializes them to an understanding of the nature of decision-making in nursing; and d) fosters the development of their knowledge, skill, and confidence as nurses. This article provides an overview of the framework, including its theoretical foundations and a schematic representation of its components. A case exemplar illustrates one application of the framework in assisting novice nurses in developing their decision-making skills. Future directions regarding the use and study of this framework in nursing education are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-170
Number of pages7
JournalNursing education perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2009


  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Clinical Judgment
  • Clinical Nursing Practice
  • Novice Nurses
  • Nursing Education


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