The Epistemological Perspective of Nursing, Essay Example
Definition of Epistemology
Epistemology is a philosophical approach to life experience that is based upon the acquisition of knowledge and the concept of “justified belief,” whereby knowledge is based upon a theoretical perspective (Nursing, 2011). The process of acquiring and understanding knowledge occurs throughout the life span and demonstrates a need to explore the different dimensions of nature and context of experiences in advancing knowledge-based ideas and principles to impact individual critical thinking skills (Nursing, 2011). This concept supports the ability to acquire different forms of knowledge to support and impact the human experience throughout the life span, and is applied to the fields of medicine and more specifically, nursing practice (Nursing, 2011). In addition, nurses must be able to formulate the knowledge that they have acquired and apply it to a variety of situations that will have a significant impact on the practice setting in a clinical capacity and will influence the nursing profession and its patient population at a high level (Nursing, 2011).
The process of acquiring knowledge is instrumental in identifying the approaches to nursing that will utilize this knowledge effectively and will influence how to best approach nursing with a capacity to formulate and apply knowledge effectively to a variety of different situations, including clinical, theoretical, and conceptual situations where nurses must develop their skillsets (Nursing, 2011). Therefore, as students and learners within the practice environment, it is of critical importance that nurses are able to contribute at a high level and to optimize their ability to be effective in meeting the needs of their patients with the knowledge that they have acquired throughout their professional careers that will improve outcomes for their patients in different ways and support a dynamic of successful nursing care and treatment at a high level (Nursing, 2011).
Relationship between Practice, Nursing’s Ontological Commitment and Epistemology
From a nursing perspective, the practice environment is the epitome of strength, courage, knowledge, and the demonstration of skills learned throughout nursing education and the profession as a whole. Therefore, it is important to demonstrate that there are significant opportunities for growth and an ability to support a dynamic where nurses continue to learn and to formulate new ideas and concepts that are associated with a knowledge-based perspective that will have lasting benefits for nurses and their patients. One of the most important areas of consideration in applying epistemology to nursing is reflective practice, which is defined in the following context: “Reflective practice posits attention to an epistemology of practice that attends to the knowledge professionals generate through reflection-in and reflection-on professional practice” (Kinsella, 2009).
The concept of “technical rationality” must be considered in this regard and demonstrate the importance of providing value in the context of nursing practice in order to be effective in supporting a dynamic whereby nurses are able to support the concepts of scientific theory and apply them to the practice setting effectively and consistently (Kinsella, 2009). Therefore, it is important to develop a strategy whereby patient care and treatment are optimized in the context of care and under which nurses are able to practice at a high level by adopting these experiences to make a difference in their own work environments to apply existing knowledge and to produce desirable outcomes for the patient population in this regard (Kinsella, 2009). Most importantly, it is evident that nurses must be able to be effective in meeting the needs of their patients effectively through the application of learned knowledge and key principles that have been acquired through training and education to support the needs of their patients on a consistent basis without delays and without limiting their ability to achieve a high level of success.
The context of reflective practice is also impactful in that it supports a greater understanding of the application of knowledge and key principles to impact patient care and treatment in a positive manner. This also reflects a need to evaluate the conditions under which there are opportunities for growth and change through the application of reflective practice in the treatment of patients, using the concepts learned in education and their application in real-world settings (Kinsella, 2009). At the same time, it is evident that the nursing profession continues to evolve and requires a high degree of knowledge and application that will have a lasting impact on the nursing profession as a whole and on the ability of nurses to apply artistry to their professional duties in that they must be able to balance these interests and apply them to the nursing practice setting at a high level (Kinsella, 2009).
It is also believed that “the practitioner does not abstain from action in order to sink into endless thought, but rather that continuity in practice entails a continual interweaving of thinking and doing” (Kinsella, 2009). Therefore, it is important to apply these principles to the practice setting and to provide nurses with a supportive environment in which they are able to succeed and to optimize their learning in the context of care and treatment at a high level to support the needs of their patients in the practice setting as best as possible (Kinsella, 2009). This reflects a greater need to acknowledge the demands of the nursing profession and the daily routine of nurses and to be mindful of the challenges that patients experience when receiving treatment, as nurses must be mindful of these concerns and how to accommodate patients effectively in supporting nursing-based knowledge and resources in a manner that is practical and appropriate for this purpose.
Nursing embodies a complex system of knowledge-based principles and areas of emphasis which are designed to improve upon existing knowledge and resources in a manner that is consistent with supporting a framework that is grounded in continuous improvement in its own right. This reflects a need to evaluate the conditions under which nurses are able to be effective in a practical setting but also demonstrate a level of knowledge and expanded complexity within their thought processes that will influence the practice setting at a high level (Paley, 2007). Within the nursing platform, there are essentially endless scenarios and forms of knowledge under which there are opportunities to achieve growth and development at a high level and to be effective in sharing knowledge and resources with other nurses throughout the profession (Paley, 2007). From this perspective, it is evident that nurses must be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of key principles and be able to apply them to a variety of situations effectively and consistently, thereby creating a dynamic in which nursing practice objectives will advance into different areas and an even higher level of complexity (Paley, 2007).
Nurses are active contributors to their surrounding environments and must demonstrate an advanced mastery of knowledge and resources in an effort to produce effective outcomes when treating their patients. This is best achieved through an expansion of resources which are applied to different situations in unique ways with the intent to produce effective outcomes and relationships among nurses throughout the profession. Nurses often possess significant knowledge of their own areas of interest and where they have been assigned to work; however, these concepts must also be applied across different disciplines in such a way that nurses embody different knowledge forms effectively and may be able to work in other areas or collaborate in this manner (Paley, 2007). This process requires an effective understanding of the applications of nursing practice that will have a significant impact on outcomes and which will demonstrate a high level of knowledge and ability to be proactive and flexible in applying this knowledge to different situations in a practical manner to address and solve new problems as they emerge (Paley, 2007). Therefore, exploring the specific characteristics of a given system is important for nurses from different disciplines because it demonstrates the value of exploring knowledge in different areas and in evaluating the context of this knowledge and how it may be applied across different disciplines in order to make a difference in the lives of the patients who require care and treatment (Paley, 2007).
Need for Distinctive Body of Knowledge
The concepts that are associated with nursing practice continue to evolve and to take shape in different forms, thereby creating a dynamic in which patient care outcomes are achieved through practical applications and the domains of knowledge that are acquired through continuing education and training. From this perspective, it may be argued that nurses must continue to evolve and to optimize their knowledge base through an individual lens and a practice-based perspective, whereby these two domains may converge and form a unique perspective regarding the application of nursing-based principles to support patient care. One of the unique considerations of nursing practice is how to move forward into the future and to determine what may occur in the profession going forward; therefore, it is necessary to consider the application of existing theories in this regard and apply them to the practice setting at a high level. For example, the Neuman Systems Model, established in 1988, is well-known throughout nursing practice and may be applied to a variety of settings in order to effectively demonstrate the ability to exercise sound and reasonable knowledge and resources to improve nursing practice and to be mindful of the challenges of the profession from a systems-based set of standards (Lowry, et al., 2007).
The application of the Neuman Systems Model is instrumental in shaping an environment where patient care is a critical priority and the recognition of human beings and their individual needs is essential in the promotion of high quality care that may be applied in different ways (Lowry, et al., 2007). For example, this model is holistic in nature and recognizes the ever-changing scope of the practice environment and what is required to meet the needs of the profession, while also addressing the holistic needs of the patient population at a high level in order to promote a well-rounded strategy that will facilitate positive outcomes for patients (Lowry, et al., 2007). This also reflects a need to explore the different dimensions of the model and the ability to overcome the challenges associated with holistic medicine in an era where traditional pharmacological therapies are valued at a high level.
One of the most important applications of the Neuman Systems Model is based upon the following concepts: “The NSM considers the client to be the center of the system into which health professionals enter for the purpose of assisting clients to attain, retain, and maintain system stability. It is inherent in the model that systems are complex, dynamic, and ever-changing” (Lowry, et al., 2007). Under these conditions, it is necessary for nurses to apply their knowledge in different ways and to demonstrate a level of flexibility in their efforts to produce high quality nursing care and treatment for all patients with an emphasis on improving outcomes and on the development of core competencies that may be applied to each patient in different ways so that their quality of life is improved or preserved as best as possible.
The process of knowledge application is ongoing and requires a strict learning curve for nurses so that they are able to apply these concepts effectively and consistently to support their patients. Furthermore, the flexible nature of this model must serve as a guide towards its future application to nursing practice as needs change, technology expands in scope and purpose, and the body of knowledge that nurses possess continues to evolve at an even higher level. This will demonstrate the importance of applying knowledge in different ways and in supporting the domains of nursing practice that will continue to evolve and grow as needs change, as new diseases emerge, and as technology evolves to an even higher level.
Definition of Nursing Knowledge/Domain Concepts/Structure of Nursing Knowledge
Nurses as practitioners must continue to grow and thrive in the context of their application of key principles to patient care and treatment. Under these conditions, it is important for nurses to be effective communicators of the discipline of nursing, applying knowledge-based concepts and principles as appropriate to patients with a variety of needs (Dobratz, 2009). The concept of a “disciplinary matrix” is applicable to nursing practice because it reflects a need to evaluate how to apply nursing-based principles to the practice setting, including those principles which are unequivocal and are not questioned under any circumstances (Dobratz, 2009). As a result, it is necessary for nurses to be flexible in their own efforts to apply these disciplines to the practice environment and to be mindful of the challenges that are associated with these applications to the practice setting (Dobratz, 2009). There must be a significant emphasis on the development of key principles to support the nursing profession and to recognize the value of nursing-based applications to ensure that nursing knowledge is appropriately applied to the practice setting without limitations or other issues that could influence the process over a period of time (Dobratz, 2009).
The formation of an expanded body of knowledge for nursing practice requires an effective understanding of the applications that are used throughout the nursing profession to improve the knowledge base. In this context, it is important to observe that some forms of knowledge may overlap in different ways and are represented by a challenging approach to nursing that has a significant impact on outcomes (Dobratz, 2009). In this context, nurses must be mindful of their responsibility to improve the nursing profession in a successful manner and to recognize the value of expanding the scope and purpose of the practice environment through these objectives, ensuring that patient care needs are met in a consistent manner (Dobratz, 2009). Nurses must possess what is known as a “disciplinary matrix” by which their practice setting is governed and they are able to contribute to the profession at a high level to meet the needs of patients on a continuous basis (Dobratz, 2009).
It is also known that throughout the nursing profession, there is a responsibility associated with the development of nursing-based protocols that will have a positive and lasting impact on the needs of the profession and the overall ability to meet knowledge-based objectives. Therefore, a practice-based approach to nursing has also evolved which is conveyed in the following context: “Knowledge development is informed by the experiences of practicing nurses, and this augments nursing’s knowledge production, and facilitates the discernment of a wide range of human responses. In this practice-based paradigm inquiry, nurses ‘look for patterns, make connections, posit possible explanations about their observations, test out and revise their ideas as the situation changes” (Dobratz, 2009). From this perspective, it is evident that nurses must be able to formulate successful ideas in a new light and to recognize their responsibility to be effective communicators in supporting the perspectives of the profession that will have a lasting impact on patients moving forward (Dobratz, 2009). The acquisition of knowledge is largely practice-based and requires an effective understanding of the dynamics of care and treatment that influence the practice setting in a favorable manner, while also considering how to best approach this practice by embracing new ideas effectively and consistently and apply them to direct patient care and in other areas (Dobratz, 2009).
Nursing as a Basic, Applied, or Human Science
Nursing involves a complex set of principles which govern many different areas of the practice environment and which reflect a need to explore the dimensions of knowledge that are expanded as a result of the activities of the profession as a whole. It is believed that the key attributes associated with nursing practice are instrumental in shaping the dynamics of care and treatment that will impact the practice environment at a high level and influence decision-making for nurses in this regard. Nurses possess a responsibility to learn about different concepts and areas of knowing that will influence their decision-making in the practice setting; therefore, this process requires an understanding of the relationship between empirical knowledge and theoretical knowledge (Porter, 2010). It is necessary for nurses to be cognizant of their responsibility to understand the dynamics of the profession and to recognize that different types of knowledge are instrumental in shaping the practice setting, and that the convergence of these knowledge types is critical to the success and achievement that is evident within the practice setting (Porter, 2010).
Nurses must able to continuously focus on how to embrace new forms of knowledge and to be flexible when applying this knowledge to the practice setting, as there are likely to be many different scenarios and responses that must be considered in this regard. Therefore, it is important for nurses to be effective communicators and to optimize their knowledge base when addressing individual situations. This will demonstrate the importance of expanding knowledge and improving upon existing information in order to effectively apply this knowledge to new situations that are unfamiliar and which may require a different approach than in the past. This will encourage the continued growth and development of nursing-based knowledge to the extent that it will support nurses in their efforts to provide adequate and effective care for patients, while also considering how it impacts their practice settings in a manner that will have a dramatic influence on how to address patient care needs and quality within the practice setting on a continuous basis.
The concept of empirical knowledge is reflected in the ability of nurses to understand and recognize the value of evidence-based practice within the nursing profession, as this is an important step towards the discovery of new ideas and approaches to nursing that will influence outcomes in a favourable manner (Porter, 2010). Evidence-based practice is defined by new ideas and subsequent interventions that may have a lasting impact on decision-making for nurses, and this is best addressed in the following context: “The modus operandi of EBP is to ascertain the facts concerning the efficacy of a healthcare intervention under rigorously controlled conditions, which ensure that the effects (or lack thereof) of the intervention under observation can be unequivocally demonstrated” (Porter, 2010). From this perspective, it may be argued that there are significant factors related to evidence-based practice that are empirical in nature and which contribute to the vast body of knowledge that exists throughout the nursing profession and which is governed by the ability of nurses to be effective communicators in support of modifying interventions on the basis of successful trials with real patients who have experienced real-time health improvements as a result of these interventions (Porter, 2010). This is an ongoing process which requires a high level of knowledge and an understanding of the key dynamics of the nursing profession which advocate for evidence-based practice solutions and which support the growth of the profession at a high level to facilitate new discoveries and support of new interventions to expand evidence-based practice outcomes (Porter, 2010). It is believed that these efforts will play a significant role in shaping an environment in which there are interventions, evaluated through traditional yet proven techniques which are grounded in scientific discovery, which are influential in shaping the dynamics of care and treatment that impact patients throughout nursing practice (Porter, 2010).
It is believed that the vast body of knowledge that is reflected throughout the practice setting which is based upon prior evidence will continue to grow and thrive within the nursing environment, thereby demonstrating a need to further expand the knowledge and key principles that will govern the practice setting at a high level. This requires the ability of nurses throughout all areas of the practice setting to be flexible and open to modifications or alterations of their current methods particularly when prior evidence demonstrates that patient health may improve as a result of one or more of these interventions. In this context, it is observed that patient care outcomes as a result of evidence-based practice must be taken seriously and must provide a basis for exploring the different dimensions of care and treatment that will impact the knowledge base for nurses. In this context, it is important to evaluate the specific needs of patients and to be cognizant of how evidence-based practice is designed to expand the knowledge base and influence the practice setting at a high level.
The science of nursing practice must also embrace an ethical perspective or approach to nursing that will have lasting outcomes for nurses, given that they understand these concepts and are able to apply them effectively to the practice setting (Porter, 2010). There must be a greater emphasis on the acknowledgement of ethical principles as part of the knowledge base for nurses and in expanding the resources that are available to support nurses so that they are able to be effective decision-makers within the profession (Porter, 2010). There are many facets to ethics within the nursing profession; however, there are many difficulties within these parameters that are based upon the challenges that nurses face in determining which positions to take regarding ethical principles and frameworks; therefore, it is known of nurses that “they will be best prepared to make the moral choices required of them if they have an understanding of ethical codes and of philosophical positions that address what is meant by the good, and what is entailed in the judgment of what is moral. However, she makes no recommendation as to which philosophical positions nurses should concentrate on. The problem with such a liberal position is that it leaves nurses adrift on the stormy seas of moral philosophy, which displays little or no consensus on how to approach its core concept” (Porter, 2010). From this perspective, it may be argued that nurses must continue to reflect upon their own core ethical values and principles and must determine how these align with the ethical frameworks of nursing practice, but to also demonstrate a degree of flexibility in this regard because these principles may be applied in a variety of situations and settings where ethics may require this approach. Nonetheless, it is imperative that nurses are able to emphasize their core values in supporting the needs of the nursing profession and in expanding their level of knowledge so that patient care and treatment are not compromised at the expense of ethics. This requires nurses to adopt a learning curve that applies to their knowledge of nursing practice and in supporting their ethical core values in a manner that will be consistent with the actions that are required of nurses within their professional parameters.
Epistemology is a complex phenomenon which involves the acquisition of and integration of knowledge in different areas. This concept may be applied to nursing practice because it includes the formulation of new ideas and concepts which influence nursing in many ways and which reflect a need to expand the knowledge and resources that are required to facilitate change and progress throughout the practice environment. It is important for nurses to acquire new forms of knowledge on a continuous basis and to reflect upon this knowledge in order to apply it to a variety of settings that will influence the practice setting in different ways. Areas such as evidence-based practice, for example, provide a basis for examining the key principles of knowledge and support a dynamic in which patient care outcomes will be influenced by new interventions that have been proven effective at the research level. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge these differences and to distinguish between these perspectives in an effort to produce effective outcomes and to be cognizant of how to improve upon existing principles in an effort to achieve the desired outcomes and to expand the practice environment to a new level.
It is necessary that nurses must continue to explore the dimensions of knowledge that are grounded in existing information and in new discoveries, as these principles serve as a driving force in supporting change and progress at a high level. Therefore, these concerns must be addressed in the context of expanding knowledge in a variety of different ways in order to improve patient care and to be mindful of the needs of the patient populations who are served by the nursing profession in many ways. By embracing new and existing knowledge, it is possible for nurses to be effective communicators and providers of care for their patients at a level that is consistent with the objectives of providing patients with care and treatment which is of the highest possible quality. Under these conditions, it is possible that nurses will be successful in achieving their desired objectives in acquiring new forms of knowledge and in advancing the key principles of nursing at a level that is consistent with improving the practice setting on a continuous basis.
Dobratz, M. C., 2009. A model of consensus formation for reconciling nursing’s disciplinary matrix. Nursing Philosophy, Volume 11, pp. 53-66.
Kinsella, E. A., 2009. Professional knowledge and the epistemology of reflective practice. Nursing Philosophy, Volume 11, pp. 3-14.
Lowry, L., Beckman, S., Gehrling, K. R. & Fawcett, J., 2007. Imagining Nursing Practice: The Neuman Systems Model in 2050. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20(3), pp. 226-231.
Nursing, C., 2011. Epistemology of Nursing. [Online]
Available at: http://currentnursing.com/nursing_theory/epistemology_of_nursing.html
[Accessed 27 November 2015].
Paley, J., 2007. Complex adaptive systems and nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 14(3), pp. 233-242.
Porter, S., 2010. Fundamenal patterns in nursing: the challenge of evidence-based practice. Advances in Nursing Science, 33(1), pp. 3-14.
Time is precious
don’t waste it!