Critical thinking in nursing

The nursing profession tends to attract those who have natural nurturing abilities, a desire to help others and a knack for science or anatomy. Identifying a problem, determining the best solution and choosing the most effective method are all parts of the critical thinking process.

After executing the plan, critical thinkers reflect on the situation to figure out if it was effective and if it could have been done better. As you can see, critical thinking is a transferable skill that can be leveraged in several facets of your life. But why is it so important for nurses to use? We spoke with several experts to learn why critical thinking skills in nursing are so crucial to the field, the patients and the success of a nurse.

Keep reading to learn why and to see how you can improve this skill. You learn all sorts of practical skills in nursing school, like flawlessly dressing a wound, taking vitals like a pro or giving an IV without flinching.

They flex this mental muscle each day they enter the floor. Nursing school offers a multitude of material to master and high expectations for your performance. But in order to learn in a way that will actually equip you to become an excellent nurse, you have to go beyond just memorizing terms.

You need to apply an analytical mindset to understanding course material. One way for students to begin implementing critical thinking is by applying the nursing process to their line of thought, according to Vest.

Nursing students often find that there are multiple correct solutions to a problem. Using the nursing process, students can narrow down their options to select the best one. When answering questions in class or on exams, challenge yourself to go beyond simply selecting an answer.

Start to think about why that answer is correct and what the possible consequences might be.

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Good nurses continue to soak up knowledge and continually improve throughout their careers. Likewise, they can continue to build their critical thinking skills in the workplace with each shift. Understanding how a seasoned nurse came to a conclusion will provide you with insights you may not have considered and help you develop your own approach. Peers and fellow healthcare professionals are not in the chain of command.

The Importance of Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing

Clear understanding and proper utilization of the chain of command is essential in the workplace. Nowadays there is more emphasis on machines and technical aspects of nursing, but critical thinking plays an important role.

You need it to understand and anticipate changes in your patient's condition.

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You must be able to quickly and confidently assess situations and make the best care decision in each unique scenario. It is in situations like these that your critical thinking skills will direct your decision making.

The more you practice it, the better you will become and the more naturally it will come to you. Learn about how else you can position yourself to climb the ranks in your nursing career in our article, " Nursing Career Advancement: 7 Ways to Stand Out in Your Scrubs.

It has since been updated to include information relevant to There are some errors in the form.Thinking how to nurse is thinking like a nurse. The ability to think critically was the foundation of nursing practice started from historic times and is becoming one of the key performance indicators for both students and nursing professionals nowadays. Educational system continues to evolve and progresses heeding to the needs of the society, and parallel to the changing educational structure and methodology.

Critical thinking skills, a fundamental skill that plays a pivotal role in our daily survival.

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In general terms, the skill will not stop in memorization, the process goes beyond connecting the dots from one to concept to another, problem-solving techniques, think creatively, and apply the learned knowledge in new ways Walden University, Kaminskedefines critical thinking skills as a domain-specific skill on the ability to solve problems and make effective decisions that require expertise to be applied in a range of situations and scenarios.

In the nursing practice, Critical thinking skill works in assimilation with critical reasoning as a practice-based discipline of decision-making to the health care professionals. Regis Collegeemphasized the use of deductive reasoning in observation, analyzing information, formulate conclusions, and performing appropriate actions in a self-directed process.

In this computer age, a neurologist discovered neurological pathways on how to re-program or reformat our brains like computers by analyzing how the brain appears to process, recognize, remember and transfer information at the level of neural circuits, synapses and neurotransmitters. The information is processed in the reflective and cognitive functions of prefrontal cortex wherein learning incorporated into networks of longterm conceptual memory.

Neuroplasticity is greatly affected by stress, boredom and frustration as seen in the neuroimaging scans of students showed that active metabolic states block the processing in the prefrontal cortex. This will result in the loss of information access to the prefrontal cortex and new learning is not retained. Elseways, Knowles four principles of andragogy of adult learning included a. In this theory, Ausubel claimed that learning occurs as a result of the interaction between the acquired learning and the cognitive structure in application to practice Seel, Moreover, critical analysis and differentiation of interrelationships between concepts called concept mapping refines the knowledge into a more organized, precise, specific, and integrated learning.

In different circumstances, nursing as a professional working in a toxic environment of the sick, pained, hopeless, weak, and dying patients; bullying, queen bee syndrome, and seniority egoism of colleagues; and backbreaking workloads—have reported cases of work-related boredom and stress.

The application of the three theories may improve mentoring-learning strategies in meaningful nursing education and training. Health care system can go a long way, achieving a considerable success having employees that possess the ability to think critically thus decreasing errors in clinical judgments.

For this purpose, every nurse is required to obtain the characteristics of an excellent skilled critical thinker. The study of Scheffer and Rubenfeld revealed the common qualities among internationally diverse expert nurses from nine different countries supporting the idea of critical thinking in nursing that encompasses logic and reasoning Berman, et.

The Value of Critical Thinking in Nursing + Examples

Undeniably, nurses with critical thinking ability diversified with effective problem-solving and efficient decision-making skills are the most in-demand and highly valued in the field of the health care industry and academe. As a nurse striding in the most complicated, stressful and multi-tasking job, you are responsible for making life-changing decisions under the pressure of time and emotions.

These reasons as to why critical thinking skills in nursing practice plays a vital role in the care of the patient. Lunacited seven importance of critical thinking skills in the practice of nursing, such as:. Critical thinking skill is needed in problems identification and implementation of interventions resulting in improved patients outcomes, as well as development in nursing practice by providing new insights on the learned knowledge.

Feedback and reflections provide interconnections between nursing researchcritical thinking and the nursing practice Berman, et. Critical thinking skill is an ability beyond thinking rationally and clearly.

critical thinking in nursing

It is a process of thinking independently and working at your own feet in formulating own opinions or new theory by utilizing critical analysis on the interrelationship of two or more ideas and delineating conclusions without external control Wabisabi Learning, Mastery requires ample amount of practice to become highly skilled in critical thinking.

Accustom to deliberate open discussions encouraging brainstorming on issues affecting the practice and daily living by using explicit open-ended questions and comprehensive instructions for problem-solving may provide opportunities to apply knowledge into practice as well as encouraging the transfer of ideas between domains Haber, Brainstorming is an excellent learning tool to exercise critical thinking Walden University, particularly if applied in a situational crisis or a hospital scenario.

From the theory of back to basic, mastery of low-level skills is a requirement in preparatory to the application of critical thinking skills Kaminske, Learning experiences from theoretical and experiential knowledge are good foundations to start critical thinking.

Moreover, practicing thinking skills obtained from theoretical and experiential undertakings improve intellectual ability Berman, et. Practical understanding and specialization on a particular focus may excel you more in thinking critically.December 16, Staff Writers.

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Clinical skills in nursing are obviously important, but critical thinking is at the core of being a good nurse. Critical thinking skills are very important in the nursing field because they are what you use to prioritize and make key decisions that can save lives.

These types of skills are important not just for clinical care, but for making important policy decisions. For you to become a successful nurse, you will need to learn how a nurse thinks on the job.

In nursing school, you will learn how to do an IV, dress a wound and to save livesbut there is more to being a nurse than just having good clinical skills. What is different about the thinking of a nurse from a sound engineer or dentist? Mainly it is how the nurse views the patient and the sorts of problems nurses have to deal with in their work.

Critical Thinking and Nursing Process- Practice Q\u0026A

Thinking like a nurse requires you to think about the entire world and content of nursing, including ideas, theories, and concepts in nursing. It also is important that we better develop our intellects and our skills so that we become highly proficient critical thinkers in nursing. All of these attributes must be true, whether the nurse is talking, speaking or acting.

You also need to do these things when you are reading, writing and talking. Always keep these critical thinking attributes in mind in nursing! Nurses have to get rid of inconsistent, irrelevant and illogical thinking as they think about patient care. Nurses need to use language that will clearly communicate a lot of information that is key to good nursing care.

It is important to note that nurses are never focused in irrelevant or trivial information. Some skills are more important than others when it comes to critical thinking. Some of these skills are applied in patient care, via the framework known as the Nursing Process. The skills that are most important are:. Interpreting — Understanding and explaining the meaning of information, or a particular event. Analyzing — Investigating a course of action, that is based upon data that is objective and subjective.

Evaluating — This is how you assess the value of the information that you got. Is the information relevant, reliable and credible? This skill is also needed to determine if outcomes have been fully reached. Based upon those three skills, the nurse can then use clinical reasoning to determine what the problem is. These decisions have to be based upon sound reasoning:.

Explaining — Clearly and concisely explaining your conclusions. The nurse needs to be able to give a sound rationale for her answers. Self regulating — You have to monitor your own thinking processes. This means that you must reflect on the process that lead to the conclusion.

You should self correct in this process as needed. Be on alert for bias and improper assumptions. Errors that occur in critical thinking in nursing can cause incorrect conclusions. This is particularly dangerous in nursing, because an incorrect conclusion can lead to incorrect clinical actions. Critical thinking can fail when logic is improperly used. One common fallacy is when one uses a circular argument.

A nurse could write a nursing diagnosis that reads Coping is ineffective, as can be seen by the inability to cope.Nursing has changed from a simple caregiving job to a complex and highly responsible profession. Hence, the role of nurses has changed from being task-oriented to a team-based, patient-centered approach with an emphasis on positive outcomes.

Strong critical thinking skills will have the greatest impact on patient outcomes. So, what is critical thinking and how do we develop this? Simply put, critical thinking in nursing is a purposeful, logical process which results in powerful patient outcomes. This definition essentially covers the nursing process and reiterates that critical thinking builds upon a solid foundation of sound clinical knowledge.

Critical thinking is the result of a combination of innate curiosity; a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, disease processes, and normal and abnormal lab values; and an orientation for thinking on your feet. Combining this with a strong passion for patient care will produce positive patient outcomes.

The critical thinking nurse has an open mind and draws heavily upon evidence-based research and past clinical experiences to solve patient problems. How does one develop critical thinking skills?

A good start is to develop an inquisitive mind, which leads to questioning, and a quest for knowledge and understanding of the complex nature of the human body and its functioning. Critical thinking is self-guided and self-disciplined. Nursing interventions can be reasonably explained through evidence-based research studies and work experience. A strong sense of focus and discipline is also important for critical thinking to work.

If thinking is unchecked, nurses can be easily misguided and deliver flawed patient care.

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A constant comparison of practice with best practices in the industry will help guide a nurse to think critically and improve care. This makes it easier to form habits which continue to have a positive impact on patients and colleagues.

Every decision a critical thinking nurse makes affects not only the patient but also his or her families, coworkers, and self. A combination of open-mindedness, a solid foundational knowledge of disease processes, and continuous learning, coupled with a compassionate heart and great clinical preceptors, can ensure that every new nurse will be a critical thinker positively affecting outcomes at the bedside. Author Recent Posts.

Sign up now to get your free digital subscription to Minority Nurse. Get the Latest Issue. Reducing Health Disparities in Underserved Communities. Storytelling as Nursing Pedagogy.In recent years, critical thinking skills have been recognized as a necessary component of nursing education. The Alfaro-LeFevres 4-Circle Critical Thinking Model provides a visual representation of critical thinking abilities that nurses can use to make connections between nursing research and nursing practice.

Nurses must:. Derived from Pearson. Nurses and particularly nurse managers must function in a highly complex environment. Many have risen to their current positions based on their competence in a clinical role, without any formal training or experience in leadership and management skills. But by far, the most effective way nurses can expand their critical thinking skills is through education. Nurses need to learn to think critically about unfamiliar areas like finance, budgeting, staffing, strategic planning, and quality assurance.

Here are the programs available at American Sentinel University:. Through critical thinking skills, nurses can become transformational leaders.

Put simply, without these skills, nurses might fall back on reactive, automatic responses to problems and miss the multitude of opportunities to make changes that are visionary and goal driven. Critical thinking and reasoning help nurses define the problems that patients are facing and make intentional, intelligent choices about how to implement programs of care for those patients.

It helps them problem solve by obtaining information and evaluating solutions before choosing the best course of action. By its very nature, nursing involves a lot of thinking, planning, assessment and trial and error.

critical thinking in nursing

Interestingly, when nurses engage in critical thinking, they impact others. They concluded that nurse managers with stronger critical thinking skills were better able to create positive practice environments that correlated with higher job satisfaction and better retention of staff nurses. Nurses who work in a positive environment are thought to be less susceptible to the effects of burnout, putting them in a better position to deliver high-quality care and keep patients safe.

A Medscape article about critical thinking skills for nurse managers illustrated, with a hypothetical example, the difference a strong leader can make:. To further develop critical thinking skills outside of clinical areas, nurse managers can adopt the following habits:. The Medscape article mentioned above also describes this innovative way to further develop critical thinking skills:.

One way nurse managers can develop critical thinking is to start writing in a reflective journal. Establishing a consistent routine of writing at least weekly in a journal can improve critical thinking Profetta-McGrath, Writing about critical incidents, complex situations that require decision making, as well as emotions and feelings about interactions and events stimulate analysis, synthesis, judgment, and creativity that are components of critical thinking.

Through the process of writing, connections are made between theory and practice. Patterns of behaviors are recognized and a hypothesis may be formed that can lead to a change in practice Profetta-McGrath, As mentioned, the best way for nurses to expand their critical thinking skills is through education. When you acquire a broader view of healthcare, from a systems and policy perspective, you equip yourself to make strategic decisions at the managerial or executive level.

Highly effective nurse leaders know this, and have made education their ally. Our MSN, Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership specialization degree is designed for experienced nurse professional who seek to develop both management and leadership skills.

Through case studies and hands-on course work, nurses examine the various human resource challenges facing an organization as well as the dynamic nature of the strategic planning and management processes.

And of course, we have many other educational programs to choose from. Explore your options today. Skip to content. What does critical thinking mean for nurses? Nurses must: Build their critical thinking characteristics, such as creativity, patience and confidence. Seek out learning experiences and experiential knowledge to build their intellectual skills and competencies. Build their interpersonal skills teamwork, resolving conflict, taking and learning from constructive criticism and competencies.

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critical thinking in nursing

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Critical Thinking: A Vital Trait for Nurses

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We look forward to seeing you on AJC. Visit us and sign in to update your profile, receive the latest news and keep up to date with mobile alerts. Click here to return to the page you were visiting. The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true, a new study published this week has warned. Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who co-authored the study told The Independent.

Since the Earth's climate system is incredibly complex, different scientists have put forward different models to determine how fast the planet is warming. This has resulted in a range of predictions, some more dire than others. The new study, published in the academic journal "Nature", aimed to determine whether the upper or lower-end estimates are more reliable.

Caldeira and co-author Dr. Patrick Brown looked at models that proved to be the best at simulating climate patterns in the recent past. They reasoned that these models would present the most accurate estimates.