The first way of knowing identified by Carper (1978) is empirics. This is the most familiar to nurses and nursing students alike. This type of knowledge is gained through proving something correct or incorrect. A simple example of this type of knowledge gaining is when we are choosing and performing our own science fair experiments in grade school. We are performing the scientific method, testing a theory and reproducing predictable results. This empiric knowledge is heavily based on the data gained through other disciplines, most notably medicine. As Fawcett (2006) noted, nurses are taking on more medical care, which entails more knowledge of the life sciences. White (1995) seeks to challenge this way of knowing, instead looking at a way of collecting data through critical works that look at relationships of the data. In this view, the knowledge gained through the relationships of the variables is attained.
In my own nursing practice, I am constantly learning. One reasons I chose this profession is it allows me to continue to learn and change my work setting while still being able to advance in my profession. The most recent example of me and fellow nurses gaining empirical knowledge...
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...l knowing)? This form of knowing allows me to have a truly open mind about the situation and how it affects my patient, essentially rejecting and sometimes even questioning what I think I already know. Some knowledge is easier to clarify and place into practice, such as empiric knowledge, while other knowledge is much harder to attain, especially when it comes to ethical or sociopolitical concerns.
The patterns of knowing identified by Carper (1978) have been instrumental in furthering the knowledge of nursing, and labeling what that knowledge is. These patterns intertwine throughout the research, and continue to develop other patterns of knowing while contributing to nursing’s body of knowledge. Like Fawcett (2006) surmised, all patterns of knowing must be embraced and used for the better of the nursing discipline, but ultimately, for the better of our patients.
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