Henderson’s theory consists of a global conceptual frame work as it is taken to be a grand theory of nursing. Her theory clearly defines broad perspectives for nursing practice. The principles of caring for the sick and elderly have come from the teaching of Henderson. Benner on the other hand describes five levels of nursing experience in addition to developing exemplars and paradigm cases to expound on each of the five levels. The philosophical base of the twentieth century has been formed by Henderson’s interactional theory of holistic care. She viewed patients and families education as important to nursing care. The idea of the nurse as a patient educator was brought to the forefront by her nursing theory. Henderson views an entire person as a whole but not in parts which is a significant aspect in healthcare delivery.
Henderson claims that the critical function of the nurse is to help the person whether sick or well. In so doing, contribute to health or its recovery that he/she would offer without aid if he/she had the necessary will, knowledge, or strength. To help individuals gain independence, the nurse must get inside the skin of all their patients to know what they need. The five levels of nursing experience described by Benner reflect the shift from dependence on past abstract principles to the application of past concrete experience as paradigms, perception change of situation to represent a complete whole in which particular parts are relevant. The five levels explained by Benner include: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.
The relationship between Benner and Henderson’s philosophies is that they both address issues that would help individuals in the nursing care so as to achieve the goals of their calling i.e. well being of their patients. The Benner and Henderson philosophies enhance each other as their concepts are based on health, person and nursing. The two concepts find practical utility is the application at the bedside care in the intensive care unit (ICU).