Critical Thinking Skill in Nursing
Nursing profession demands a set of competencies including from the practitioners; people skills, analytical skills, project management and teamwork among others. In this paper, the discussion focuses on critical thinking as one of the crucial nursing expertise in the administration of duties (Alligood 2013). These skills can be acquired through books, texts or scientific information or developed through experience.
Critical thinking is a disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfections of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thought (Norris and Ennis 1989). It is observed in two forms. If its aim is to serve the interests of a particular individual or excluding specific groups of people, it can be referred to as a weak sense critical thinking If disciplined to address the needs of diverse people or groups; it is fair-minded or strong sense critical thinking (Arnold and Boggs 2015). An experienced critical thinker is one who: Raises questions and problems and formulates them clearly and precisely, gathers and assesses relevant information, uses abstract ideas for interpretation, provides conclusions that are supported and compares them with existing standards. He also shows open-mindedness and recognizes alternative ways of seeing problems, and can assess the assumptions, implications, and consequences of alternative views of problems and finally communicates in an effective manner with others so as to come up with solutions to difficult problems are formulated (Potter et a. 2013).
Critical thinking when applied to nursing calls for systematic and logical thinking on clinical decision-making matters by nursing practitioners with an open mind to be able to offer safe nursing practice and quality care to patients (Atay and Karabacak 2012). It includes adherence to intellectual standards and the competent use of thinking skills to make proper clinical evaluations and safe decision-making Commitment to developing and maintain sound traits of mind including; intellectual humility, intellectual courage, intellectual sense of justice, intellectual perseverance, intellectual empathy, intellectual integrity and faith in reason (Paul 1990). Nursing requires the practitioners to adopt an intellectual standard of reasoning their everyday practice, they are aware of the limitations of to their knowledge and viewpoint in a certain matter and embrace that everyday poses new opportunities for learning (Billings and Halstead 2013). Critical thinking calls for practitioners to fairly asses all viewpoints without biases before making a decision and the willingness to pursue insight to unresolved matters despite obstacles.
A critically thinking practitioner asks the following questions after their interaction with patients: “What assumptions have I made about this patient?” “How do I know my assumptions are accurate?” “Do I need any additional information?” and “How might I look at this situation differently?” The nursing activity involves a series of ordered steps, aimed at imposing some discipline and critical thinking to provide excellent care. The nursing process is a designated series of actions intended to fulfill the purposes of nursing. The first step in the nursing process is the assessment phase (Chan 2013). During this phase, the practitioner can either collect objectives and or subjective data. Subjective data are collected through patients as they describe their feelings, perceptions or needs about the problem while objective may be obtained through examination, observations and consultation with other healthcare providers (Lunney 2013).
The next step involves analysis and identification of patients’ problem. This involves the critical analysis of data collected from the patient and the clinical diagnosis by nurse Del (Bueno 2005). Nursing diagnosis involves a clinical judgment about individual, family, or community measures against actual or perceived health problems or life processes which provide the basis for selection of nursing interventions to achieve outcomes for which the nurse is accountable. Thirdly in the nursing process involves planning (Dossey et al. 2012). This involves carefully identifying the patients goals ( agreed on by both patient and nurse expect where the patient is incapable of making sound judgments and decision, in which case a family member should step in) selection of proper intervention methods to meet the patients’ needs. The goals can be long-term or short-term depending on the situation. The next step would be the implementation of the planned interventions (Polit and Beck 2013). Having gone critically gone through the first three steps, and identified the problem. The nurse then needs to implement the proposed intervention based on her better judgment and experience (Hockenberry and Wilson 2014). Lastly Evaluation- looking at the condition of the patient having implemented the intervention, collecting feedback and suggesting ways to improve or maintain the situation. In this phase, the nurse examines the patient’s progress about the goals and outcome criteria to determine whether a problem is resolved, is in the process of being resolved, or is unresolved.
The key critical thinking skills in Nursing includes clearly interpretation and understanding of information or a particular event, good analytical skills based on both subjective and objective data obtained and good assessment skills (Keating 2014). The common pitfalls of critical thinking in nursing may include; illogical processes like circular arguments which do not solve a problem or traditional appeal where practitioners fail to take new approaches to make medical interventions. Another pitfall is biased, where practitioners chose to implement their ideologies forsaking all other reasonable alternatives, ideas, and recommendation. Also, close mindedness is a common pitfall (Kong et al. 2014). Medical practitioners close minded can prevent family, patients’ and other professionals viewpoints from being heard. It, therefore, raises the problem of fewer medical options available to be explored and fewer ideas implemented.
In conclusion, clinical activities, as well as classroom teachings, develops the nurses understanding of scholarly, academic work through the effective application of intellectual abilities and skills. Everyday work scope of nurses requires the capacity to think critically outside the box beyond the norms surrounding the nursing profession but within the acceptable practices to deliver excellence in patients care (Lee et al. 2013). To acquire the deeper understanding of nursing and nursing practices and become intellectual thinkers, students require to borrow from nursing literature and other experienced professionals as well as speak, read, write, listen and critically thinking in every process. The idea is to embrace the holistic approach to critically thinking rather than be vaguely acquainted.
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