In Barbara Carper’s “Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing “(1978), Carper outlines four different patterns of knowing: empirics, esthetics, personal and ethics. Carper believes that all of these patterns of knowing are not mutually exclusive or sufficient on their own merit. What Carper shows is that these four patterns of knowing are intertwined and each play their role in a nurse’s knowledge base. This paper will outline Carper’s four patterns of knowing as it applies to nursing.
Empirics are important to Carper for it is the knowledge gained from science and other sources. It provides a way of knowing the world we live in with a way to gain knowledge about the field of nursing in relationship to its physical boundaries. This knowledge can help predict future events in a patient’s health while providing explanations and solutions a nurse may encounter. This pattern of knowing assists the nurse in performing their duties in relationship to disease and ...view middle of the document...
Through esthetics, the nurse will know the actions needed to mitigate dangerous situations and how to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.
Personal knowledge places importance on the perception of the lives of others through empathy and understanding. Through personal knowledge, the nurse may be able to pick up on subtle emotional cues that may hint at a need for additional care other than what their illness may require. By taking into account personal knowledge, the nurse perceives the individual as a person and not as an object and thereby focuses on patient health from a holistic perspective. This will help gain trust, which will prove useful if complications arise and when additional information may be required from the patient.
The final pattern of knowing that Carper defines is ethics. This is what Carper defines as ”matters of obligation or what ought to be done” (Carper, 1978, pg. 20). This means that the nurse must take it upon themself to establish the boundaries between right and wrong. The nurse will apply ethical decisions to specific situations and settings, knowing that the responsibility may fall solely to them. Another tricky aspect of this pattern of knowing is the idea of different ethical frameworks that exist among people. What may be ethically correct to some may be wrong for others. It is the job of the nurse to understand different frameworks and to apply them to situations as suitable as possible.
Carper’s “Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing”, is a suitable way of looking at the role of a nurse in a holistic view. Carper’s four different patterns of knowing cover many different areas that are crucial to nursing. Nurses must be confident on their epistemology of physical illness and its phenomena. This must be as strong as their ability to react to emergency situations, establish relationships and trust with patients and to be ethically aware of what may be right and wrong. Although Carper’s patterns of knowing were established in 1978, they still show value in today’s society and are still applicable to the nursing field’s diverse environment and ever-changing range of patient care.
Carper, B. (1978). Fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 1(1), 13-23.