The study of the origins of nursing knowledge, its structure and methods, the patterns of knowing of its members, and the criteria for validating its knowledge claims is what is regarded as nursing epistemology (McEwen & Will, 2011) According to Zander (2007) nurses acquire their knowledge base from numerous sources and this knowledge is what they apply “in their ways of knowing as they practice their profession in many contexts”. Carper (1978) proposed an epistemological structure to the different ways in which this knowledge may be acquired and used, referred to as the ‘Ways of Knowing’. Her work became a catalyst for an onslaught of discussion about nursing knowledge, some in agreement and others critical of her perspective. For the purpose of this paper, only Chinn and Kramer’s view and analysis of Carper’s work will be used to identify the ‘Ways of Knowing’ in a narrative highlighting one nurse’s account of her experience with a deceased patient and his relatives.
Another contribution by Chinn and Kramer to Carper’s work was the development of a “model that expanded Carper's work by looking at how knowledge is generated, transmitted, and evaluated”. (Zander 2007) The model is compartmentalized into three dimensions with each seeking to address a different aspect; “the creative dimension is concerned with the generation, extension, and modification of knowledge; the expressive dimension provides the means by which the knowledge pattern is exhibited and displayed and the assessment dimension examines the ways of knowing for adequacy of the knowledge pattern by identifying a process context specific to the knowledge generation in each pattern, and establishing a pattern credibility index”. (Zander 2007) To some extent this model will also be referred to when I go on to describe my personal reflection of what nursing is while relating it to concepts of ‘Ways of Knowing’.
The ‘Ways of Knowing’ was initially conceptualized in 1978 by...