In the foundation of nursing knowledge, there are four ways of knowing: Empirical, Personal, Ethical and Aesthetic (Hopp & Rittenmeyer, 2012).
The Empirical way relates to the science of nursing that uses laws and theories to predict the outcome (Carper, n.d.). A simple example of this occurred when caring for a patient with an edematous, painful left lower extremity that was warm with erythema noted from mid-calf down to the ankle. To predict the care and possible outcome, the nurse uses the knowledge of science to determine possible testing and causes for these symptoms. A notification to the physician is made and an ultrasound of the left lower leg is ordered. The results of the ultrasound indicate a deep vein thrombosis and the patient is placed on a Heparin drip. The inhibited blood flow by an embolus in the vein caused the area to become reddened, warm and painful due to lack of circulation in that area. This information can be evaluated by other health care providers to predict the outcome. This intervention was informed by the empirical way of knowing, or the science.
The personal way of knowing is knowing and actualizing of the individual self (Carper, n.d). There are three processes of personal knowing that include: opening, centering and realizing (Jasper, 2003). One example of the personal way of knowing is demonstrated when experiencing situations with a patient that are similar to one’s past experience. A patient was admitted with malignant hypertension and was experiencing high levels of stress, mainly due to the loss of her loved one. As her nurse and having experienced a recent loss of a loved one as well, allowed for complete understanding of the experience that the patient was going through. Althou...
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...of knowing is communicating with patients even though they cannot hear or see you. Working in the intensive care unit, patients are often intubated and sedated. A particular patient and family come to mind when reflecting on this way of knowing. Although this patient was sedated, the creative nursing interventions were holding his hand, combing his hair and giving emotional support to the family. After being discharged from the hospital in stable condition, this patient came back to the intensive care unit to visit and showed his appreciation, with tears in his eyes, for the excellent care he received. Families are often emotional and stress levels are high when their loved ones are sick. Providing holistic care to the family and as well as the patient is necessary for optimal healing and an intervention for the aesthetic way of knowing (Smith & Parker, 2015).
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