Strategies to Critical Thinking

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                                Critical Thinking in the Workplace

While there is no clear definition of critical thinking, it can often be associated with the terms “evaluation”, “analysis”, and “higher-thinking” (Horvath & Forte, 2011, pg. 1). Critical thinking can be described as the process in which one uses logic and reason to determine a solution to a problem. As nurses, we develop critical thinking skills through our practices and expansion of knowledge. To critically think one must assess the problem, determine solutions, and apply them to the current situation. Critical thinking is a sought out skill that improves one’s ability to make reasonable decisions in and out of the workplace.

Critical thinking is an essential part in the delivery of high-quality patient care.  In the Emergency Department (ED) for example, patients are triaged and treated based on their level of acuity.  Let’s say that two patients present to the ED. The first patient is a 58 year old female who presents with chest pain and productive cough that started three days ago. The second patient is a 69 year old male who presents with sudden 10/10 “tearing” pain in his upper abdomen and chest. Based on signs and symptoms the nurse would use critical thinking to prioritize and determine which patient needs immediate treatment. In this circumstance, patient number two would be evaluated first; this is due to the high possibility of aortic dissection.  Prioritization and critical thinking are not only used in the ED but as well as other healthcare settings.  Critical thinking skills are essential in the nursing field because they allow nurses to prioritize and make key decisions that can save lives (Nurse Journal, 2005-2018, para. 1). 

                                 Strategies to Critical Thinking

In recent years there has been emphasis placed on the quality of care provided by nurses. To ensure the delivery of high quality patient care, it is essential that nurses maintain a high level of competence to respond effectively to complex clinical situations (Carvalho et al., 2017, pg. 103-107).   Two strategies that are often used to encourage the development of critical thinking include problem-based learning (PBL) and simulations.

PBL is a student-centered learning method that focuses on applying theory to real life situations. The use of open-ended questions in PBL allows students to think critically and provide feedback. Simulation labs are mock scenarios that allow health care professionals to practice in a controlled environment. Simulation labs are found to be highly effective as they allow students to critique their skills until competent. While there are several strategies used to develop critical thinking, it is essential to determine which strategies works best for each individual to promote adequate learning.

                           Critical Thinking, Nursing Practice, and Scholarship

            Critical thinking is an essential part of one’s nursing practice as it helps to build confidence and competency in the delivery of patient-directed care. With continued education and practical application nurses can develop skills needed to practice at a scholarly level. To continue to advance in one’s nursing practice nurses must evaluate strategies essential for the development of critical thinking skills. 

                                                  Resources

Carvalho, D. P., Azevedo, I. C., Cruz, G. K., Mafra, G. A., Rego, A. L, Vitor, A. F., . . .Junior, M. A. (2017). Strategies Used for the Promotion of Critical Thinking in Nursing Undergraduate Education: A Systematic Review. Nurse Education Today, 57, 103-107. Doi10.1016/j.nedt.2017.07.010

Horvath, C. P., & Forte, J.M. (2011). Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World: Critical Thinking: Retrieved December, 31, 2018, from https://ebook.central.proquest.com/lib/waldenu/reader.action?docID=3021945&ppg=155.

Nurse Journal. (2005-2018). The Value of Critical Thinking in Nursing & Examples. Retrieved from https://nursejournal.org/community/the-value-of-critical-thinking-in-nursing/ [Accessed 31 Dec. 2018].

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