Question IRENE Health

Patterns of Knowing in the Development of Nursing Theory

Discuss the importance of the patterns of knowing in the development of the nursing theory.

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Answer Internal Staff

Nurses require a great deal of knowledge to be able to serve their services users to the best of their abilities. A number of patterns have been put into place to help nurses gain this knowledge in the hope they can acquire the knowledge they will need to be efficient when working. These include four fundamental patterns of learning that are distinguished by their logical type of meaning, these would be: ‘(1) empirics, the science of nursing; (2) esthetics, the art of nursing; (3) the component of a personal knowledge in nursing; and (4) ethics, the component of moral knowledge in nursing’(Carper, 1978, pg23). Understanding these four patterns is essential for any student nurse as it will give them the best chance to gain the knowledge they require to succeed.

Each pattern has been conceived with the end goal of helping the learner achieve mastery over their discipline, however, no pattern alone would be sufficient for this. The leaner would need to make use of all four, if they are to achieve mastery. The patterns are not mutual exclusive and the learning processes of one pattern will not require the neglect of another, for example while gaining knowledge via empirics learning the nurse should not abandon their quest for moral knowledge, as without morality the role of the nurse may be lost.

It is worth noting that these methods do not always increase the learners’ range of knowledge, but they instead involve the learner in paying detailed attention to the question of what it means to know and how the knowledge can be used in practise. This is seen as a valuable discipline in nursing education as it means that learners will not just be able to regurgitate information on request but put it into practise and make effective use of it when the pressure is on.


Carper, B, Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing. Advances in Nursing Science: October 1978 - Volume 1 - Issue 1 – pg. 13-24