Critical thinking in nursing features skills that are necessary for nurses to implement in a clinical setting, especially in a hospital. Such skills can be described as the ability of an individual to use reasoning and judgment when faced with a situation that requires ethical or reflective decision-making.
In essence, critical thinking is about problem-solving and involves doing more than just accepting the information given. It is not enough for nurses to know facts by rote. Instead, they must be able to understand their meaning and use them within a nursing context. In this article we will discuss what critical thinking entails precisely.
- Critical Thinking: A Vital Trait for Nurses
- What Is Critical Thinking?
- Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing
- What Is Being a Nurse All About?
- How Do Nurses Use Critical Thinking?
- Best Ways Nurses Can Improve Critical Thinking Skills
- Case-Based Approach
- Critical Thinking Exercises
- Develop a Questioning Mind
- Use Nursing Process
- Assess Evidence-Based Research Carefully
- Strive For Clarity Within Documentation
- Developing a Closer Relationship With Your Colleagues
- How are critical thinking skills applied in nursing?
- Why are critical thinking skills important for nurses?
- How are critical thinking skills acquired in nursing school?
- More Resources for Critical Thinking in Nursing:
Critical Thinking: A Vital Trait for Nurses
Critical thinking is a specific way of using your mind to objectively judge information rather than believing everything you are told at face value. Critical thinkers question the information given to them, evaluating the truth by looking for supporting evidence. They do not automatically accept what they are told but instead analyze before deciding whether or not they agree.
Critical thinking has many benefits and can be applied in areas of life other than professional nursing. It is an invaluable tool often taught at school; however, employers often fail to tell new employees about this skill until they have already completed their training period. Henceforth, education around critical thinking should ideally begin during the early years of employment as a nurse.
What Is Critical Thinking?
As mentioned earlier, critical thinking entails more than just accepting facts blindly without questioning them. Although this may work within certain situations, there are many cases where nurses are expected to use good judgment when making clinical decisions.
This occurs often in hospitals, so critical thinking skills are so crucial for healthcare professionals. Critical thinking is not all about intelligence; instead, this skill is primarily reliant on maturity and understanding the meaning of words. Intelligence and rational thinking are not the same thing.
Critical thinking skills include the following:
- Deducing information from what you have been told
- Making assumptions based on logic or reason, without being swayed by emotion
- Drawing appropriate conclusions based on the evidence available at any given time
- Avoiding distractions and focusing clearly while using your mind to its best potential
For example, an experienced nurse may review a patient’s medical chart before entering their room and deduce that they might be experiencing ectopy on their ECG with lab results indicating high potassium levels. They then assume that this may be caused by a kidney condition, which is supported by the ECG.
Finally, they use their critical thinking skills to decide their level of urgency in notifying the physician, or exploring any existing protocols to address the issue.
Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing
This information is essential for nurses in practice, especially since clinical decision-making can often be stressful and difficult. It involves thinking logically, objectively, and critically about a situation to arrive at an appropriate course of action that will benefit patient. Critical thinking skills are frequently utilized when nurses provide care for patients in hospitals due to the complex nature of clinical setting decision-making.
Critically analyzing your thoughts before you act upon them can help you avoid falling into common traps of flawed reasoning. Better yet, arming yourself with the best possible information will allow you to make better decisions that can positively influence patient outcomes.
Critical thinking skills are not limited to nurses providing care in hospitals. Nurses working in community settings often face complicated situations which are best navigated by using critical thinking skills.
This skill is positively correlated with solid communication and interpersonal skills, so it can be said that without these abilities, a nurse would have trouble applying critical thinking skills effectively.
What Is Being a Nurse All About?
Many people believe that nursing entails putting your neck on the line every day to provide care for patients who may have little appreciation for your efforts or poorly respect your boundaries. It certainly isn’t a glamorous job, nor is it one you can pursue without a strong sense of dedication and duty for the well-being of others.
However, nurses do need to make use of critical thinking skills to provide care of the utmost quality since lives are at stake every day at work.
In any case, there are many benefits associated with using critical thinking skills. Nurses who apply these skills tend to be more successful within their role because they can think critically about what is going on around them and how this relates to patient outcomes. They are more efficient with their time and interventions, as they are not distracted by red herrings in assessment findings or placating emotions.
How Do Nurses Use Critical Thinking?
Nurses are expected to be able to use critical thinking skills in many different circumstances. For instance, they may need to analyze the actions of patients who seem overwhelmed or confused when they initially arrive at the hospital. Familiarizing yourself with the signs that indicate when someone might be overwhelmed can help you ensure that you provide them with appropriate care when they can not process what is happening around them.
Critical thinking is also involved in knowing how much information is safe to share with a patient and which outcomes you will achieve through offering a treatment choice. By using critical thinking skills, nurses can work out how best to support their patients’ health goals and those of their families and friends to feel included throughout the process.
It is also essential for nurses to make use of critical thinking in their own right. They may need to seek guidance when they feel uncertain about the course of action they should take. Any time you feel unsure or overwhelmed, it is best to utilize resources available to you to find answers that will allow you to move forward with your work more effectively.
Best Ways Nurses Can Improve Critical Thinking Skills
Experts within the nursing field have said that it is crucial for nurses to think critically about any tasks set before them. This means applying critical thinking skills to whatever problem you are given, not just those related directly to your area of specialty. Following are some ways that nurses can use to improve their critical thinking abilities.
When it comes to applying critical thinking skills in a clinical experience, nurses should use a case-based approach. This method uses an actual patient situation as a starting point and then allows you to research further on your own by going through relevant articles, books, and journals within the field.
The idea behind this approach is that you will benefit from having more knowledge at your disposal, which allows you to understand how often these cases come up and the type of concerns patients express when faced with them. To get the most out of this approach, you would need to recall where it was that you found this information so that you can re-access if needed later on.
Critical Thinking Exercises
There are many functional critical thinking exercises that you can perform on your own to see how effectively you can apply these skills. One of the simplest ways for nurses to test their abilities is by looking at some examples and then working out what steps they would need to take to solve such problems as efficiently as possible.
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Critical thinking exercises also help nurses practice new problem-solving techniques so they can recall them later when needed. You may find it helpful to prepare yourself with some background information before performing one of these challenges so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of you.
Develop a Questioning Mind
If you would like to use critical thinking in your nursing career, you must develop a questioning mind. It can be tempting to accept what has been offered to you at face value when starting in the industry, but this method does not encourage you to think beyond the information given.
By developing your ability to question whatever problem is laid before you, nurses will find their work much more rewarding and stimulating by allowing them to see what is possible. Looking further into each situation than others around you might qualify for opportunities that they may have missed had they just followed instructions without question.
Use Nursing Process
When it comes to using critical thinking processes in nursing, developing a process-oriented approach can be incredibly beneficial as this method allows you to focus on the best way to move forward with your work. You will need to identify all of the factors which may be involved in performing your task and then make sure that you are working out the order in which they should occur.
This method helps nurses avoid making mistakes or taking unnecessary risks by ensuring that everything possible has been thought through before acting on anything. It also ensures that nurses are able to keep track of their progress at any given time so that they know what stage they are up to within the process.
Assess Evidence-Based Research Carefully
Nurses who use critical thinking in their everyday nursing role should always make sure that they assess the quality of evidence-based research before using this information to inform their practices. This approach is essential for nurses who wish to improve their knowledge and understanding of a range of health care topics by reading up on what has already been written about them.
By doing so, you will become more aware of where your information comes from and why it would be best suited to the situation you are currently working with. It also means that your chances of making an error when deciding which facts are relevant decrease significantly.
Strive For Clarity Within Documentation
Another method that nurses can use to use critical thinking effectively is striving for clarity within the documentation. This approach applies to a range of different scenarios and encourages you to think critically about the information presented to you.
For example, nurses who are familiar with critical thinking may decide not to ignore the absence of crucial information within their education materials but instead make use of this situation as an opportunity for them to engage in alternative research or troubleshooting techniques. Thinking in nursing requires experience that you can’t get by reading documents and books.
Developing a Closer Relationship With Your Colleagues
By developing a closer relationship with their colleagues, nurses can ensure that they can engage in more productive discussions about their everyday work problems and how these could best be solved. Being aware of other people’s perspectives on any given topic allows you to understand better why they would support certain decisions over others.
Not only does this help inform your own decisions, but you will also be able to work better with your colleagues as you are aware of what they would expect from the decision-making process.
Critical thinking in nursing can keep nurses at the top of their game by ensuring that they are constantly striving to find out more about their chosen profession and how they can become better at it. By using a range of different strategies, nurses can make sure that any knowledge they acquire is relevant and accurate for the needs of their current situation.
Now, let’s move to some FAQs.
How are critical thinking skills applied in nursing?
Using critical thinking skills in nursing requires nurses to carefully go through every step of the decision-making process. Doing so helps ensure that they are not missing out on any important information which would improve their chances of making an informed choice about what actions should be taken next. It is also very important in clinical practice that nurses should use a critical thinking process to avoid mistakes.
Why are critical thinking skills important for nurses?
Nurses who use critical thinking skills are less likely to make mistakes or take unnecessary risks because they have gone through the decision-making process in a logical order. By doing so, nurses can also ensure that everything possible is taken into consideration before making any final decisions about their actions.
How are critical thinking skills acquired in nursing school?
Nursing schools sometimes offer courses that allow you to improve your critical thinking skills. These classes usually do not involve a lot of additional work and instead focus on increasing the confidence of students who wish to develop this ability.
These courses are an excellent way for students to start honing their critical thinking skills, however know that it is difficult to fine-tune these skills with little experience in the field. Therefore, in school you really should just be getting a baseline understanding of what critical thinking is, and this will set the foundation for becoming better at it once you gain basic competencies.
Nurses are under constant pressure to provide care for patients in hospitals and community settings, making critical thinking skills extremely relevant. Learning how to think critically will equip nurses to make sound decisions based on evidence that will ensure patient well being at all times.
It is essential for hospital staff and nursing students to be aware of their thought processes to improve patient outcomes even further. Have any questions? Let us know in the comment section.
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