Researchers examining clinical decision-making often explored the role of the nurse’s experience. In these studies, experience was conceptualized as either the time spent in nursing or the knowledge which came from practice. This paper reports on the conceptualization of the nurse’s experience emerging from a grounded theory study describing one decision-making process: ‘knowing the patient’. Data included in-depth interview text, participant observation fieldnotes, and documents. Data were analysed using the constant comparative method and open, axial and selective coding techniques. In the analysis, the nurse’s experience was conceptually defined as ‘the application of that learned from previous practice situations’. Three attributes of the nurse’s experience emerged. These included a focus on the patient, confidence in practice, and knowledge of antecedents and consequences of similar patient situations. Each aspect enhanced the individualization of nursing interventions. The findings are related to other investigations in nursing and insights for practice are offered.