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Carper’s Patterns of Knowing

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The pattern of nursing that I believe to be the most important in my current practice would be the Empirical Fundamental of Carpers’ Pattern of Knowing. This theory has allowed me to broaden my thought process and has taught me how to approach various clinical situations. According to Cody & Kennedy, concepts of knowing are determined by where a person stands within their practice. Carpers noted that “each pattern may be conceived as necessary for achieving mastery in the discipline, but none of them could be considered sufficient’ when standing alone” (Cody & Kennedy, 2006, p. 31). I can also relate to this theory because I recently joined a Medical-Psychiatric unit, with only having an Oncology background and less than two years of nursing experience. With this change in environment, I am starting with the foundation of science in nursing and using the skills to verify and research what is necessary to provide patient care based off actual evidence.

Carper described empirical knowledge as the framework; based off “observation, testing, and replication of knowledge”, giving the foundation for research and evidence (Cody & Kennedy, 2006). I am currently obtaining information that is unique to my current area of practice, which will ultimately add to my current foundation of knowledge. In general I believe that we as nurses use all the forms of knowing within our practices, it just depends on the advancement of your education and knowledge regarding which pattern one currently uses.

When it comes to comparing Carpers theory to Schultz and Meleis; Schultz and Meleis incorporate a more in-depth approach to the four fundamental patterns of nursing knowledge that Carper introduced. Mantzorou & Mastrogiannis (2011) research showed that with the empirical knowledge there has been an overall increase in patient satisfaction. Without the empiric (stable structure) foundation, nothing will stand. You will lose bits and pieces (of the other patterns of knowing) if your empiric pattern of knowing is not reliable.

I am not solely focusing on the pattern of empiric, however, I believe that it is important to have a firm foundation from the beginning so that one can obtain new knowledge and develop a higher level of critical thinking. According to Angela Hall, the article’s overall purpose for Defining Nursing Knowledge is to show “knowledge is important to raise awareness of personal and professional accountability, inform the dilemmas of practice and improve patient care” (2005, p.1). Nursing knowledge comes from both theory and practice, which is based on evidence rather than opinion and beliefs alone.

Nevertheless, my ultimate aim is to be able to implement more nursing understanding into my daily practice because this information will help mold me into become an even better nurse. Several of the components of nursing knowing theories seem to have similar patterns and tend to overlap which would enhance the nursing skills, knowledge, and techniques if used properly. Nurses will continue to improve their practice by questioning findings from all sources and making sure they are empirical. Such strategies will help to improving the care of the patients because the nurse would be more aware of the best knowledge and evidence to use within our scopes of practice.


Cody, W. K., & Kenney, J. W. (Eds.). (2006). Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing. Philosophical and theoretical perspectives for advanced nursing practice (pp. 19-26). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Hall, A. (2005) Defining nursing knowledge. Nursing Times; 101: 48, 34–37.

Mantzorou, M., & Mastrogiannis, D. (2011). The value and significance of knowing the patient for professional practice, according to the Carper’s patterns of knowing. Health Science Journal, 5(4), 251-261.

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