Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing

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Nursing involves a process of dynamic interactions of various ways of knowing to provide excellent care. Carper recognized four fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing: empiric, ethics, personal, and aesthetic patterns. The empirical aspect of knowing relates to the science of nursing. The aesthetic aspect of knowing shows more of the art of nursing. Personal knowing pertains to the self-confidence of the nurse in their knowledge. Ethics refers to moral obligations and values of applying knowledge. Nurses in practice can improve patient care when all forms of knowing are integrated. So how does a nurse apply each aspect of knowing into effective practice?
The science of nursing or the empirical pattern of knowledge only partially reflects nursing knowledge. This is the concrete, factual, and numerical aspect of health care. Empirical knowing is based on the assumption that what is known is accessible through the physical senses: seeing, touching and hearing. This is where evidence based practice (EBP) comes in. Evidence-based practice focuses on the methods of critically evaluating and applying available data and research, to understanding and improving the clinical decision-making. By using updated research and techniques provided by EBP a nurse can provide better health care. Empirical knowing is also the grounds to health care policies and procedures. These policies and procedures are an attempt at providing the nurse and patient an approved and consistent system from which to follow based on accepted evidence based research. Nurses face a challenge when trying to translate the broad best evidence into the specific clinical practice.
Bridging the gap from research to clinical practice can be accomplished by applying the sec...

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... passion and acceptance to others, by knowing your preferences, ideals, and biases. Being aware of one’s self can help actualize the different beliefs of others.
Nursing has evolved into a discipline that regards the understanding between the relationships amongst theory, practice, research, and experience. The interrelationship between each aspect of knowing has enhanced the ability of the nurse to supply appropriate care. The four patterns of knowing when used together are beneficial to nursing leadership theory, specifically because they were developed by nurses for nurses. These four patterns show the complexity of nursing knowledge. The patterns are not mutually exclusive; there is overlap, interrelation and interdependence. Such unity may be perceived as necessary for achieving mastery in what we do, where no one pattern alone should be considered sufficient.
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