Only a few professions are as personally satisfying as nursing. People choose to be a nurse because of their desire to help and assist others medically as well as to guide them to a healthier lifestyle.. The work is exceptionally gratifying, but it can also be demanding. To be happy and successful in nursing, it helps to have specific personal characteristics and attributes. The most important quality among them is the ability to think critically.
As a nurse, you’re often responsible for handling stressful situations that arise with a patient and helping patients and their families through some of the most stressful and heartfelt moments they’ll ever experience. Nurses must be able to think quickly on their feet, which is when critical thinking comes in handy.
So, what is critical thinking, and why is it so crucial for nurses to use? Keep reading to learn why critical thinking skills in nursing are vital to the profession, the patients, and the success of a nurse.
What is Critical Thinking in Nursing?
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze facts and come to sensible conclusions objectively. It’s a simple yet impressive process of collecting, evaluating, searching and conceptualizing the provided information for the self-awareness of one’s thinking and his mental ability to use this to take appropriate actions and make better decisions.
Nurses apply critical thinking in solving problems of patients and quick decision-making processes with creativity to enhance the effect. It is an essential process for safe, efficient and skillful nursing intervention. Every decision a nurse makes not only affects the patient but also his or his families, coworkers, and self.
Critical thinking in nursing is a learned skill that improves the quality of care given and results in positive patient outcomes.
How Can You Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills?
Critical thinking is a process you acquire through experience, commitment and a willingness to push the boundaries of accepted knowledge. To develop your critical thinking skills, you must first create a curious mind, which leads to questioning and a quest for knowledge. A curious nurse is someone who can develop critical thinking skills easily.
Another aid in the development of critical thinking is the utilization of the experience of seasoned and senior nurses around you. Understanding how an experienced nurse came to a decision will provide you with insights you may not have considered. This helps you develop your own approach. An open-minded nurse can learn valuable lessons from others and will be able to practice for the good of their patients. Likewise, you can continue to build your skills in the workplace with each shift and continually improve throughout your careers.
How Are Critical Thinking Skills Applied in Nursing?
Even though health care is considered a scientific discipline with a set of processes and instructions covering almost every step of patient care, there are still plenty of instances that require nurses to think critically and formulate new plans. You need it to understand and foresee changes in your patient’s condition.
As a nurse, you will encounter situations in which there are multiple solutions, and you’ll be asked to determine the solution that will provide the best possible outcome for your patient. You must be able to quickly assess situations and make the best decision in each unique scenario. It is in situations like these that your critical thinking skills will help you make intelligent choices about implementing programs of care for those patients.
Whereas, nurses with poor critical thinking skills can be a hindrance to patient care and safety. For example, carrying out standard protocols for patient care and treatment is an acceptable practice. However, considering the possibility that problems unrelated to specific protocols may arise, nurses who are overly reliant on protocols may not possess sufficient analytical aptitude to address emerging situations adequately.
Put simply, critical thinking and reasoning help nurses define the problems that patients face, develop a more robust understanding of problems’ underlying causes, and generate more creative solutions to everyday problems in hospitals and other places.
How Are Critical Thinking Skills Acquired From Nursing School?
Critical thinking has become a widely discussed and significant component of nurse education. Nursing schools teach students how to analyze situations and develop solutions based on high-order thinking skills.
The main critical thinking skills in which nursing students are exercised during their studies are interpretations, analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation and self-regulation.
- Interpretations: Accurately interpreting patient treatments’ outcomes from familiar information sources related to the patient’s care.
- Analysis: Determining the patient’s problems based on assessment data. The ability to analyze data and make decisions has become increasingly important in providing quality patient care.
- Evaluation: Evaluating information to discover its probable trustworthiness and its relevance to particular patient care situations.
- Inference: Reaching conclusions that are appropriate to the care of the patient. Inferences are created through the assumptions the individual brings to the table.
- Explanation: Explanation is the ability to justify actions. Explaining and defending the reasoning in which an individual arrives at specific decisions through sound argument.
- Self-regulation: One must be able to plan, execute, monitor, and evaluate their learning and develop an awareness of their abilities. Self regulation is the process of continually monitoring one’s thinking and adjusting or improving it if necessary.
How You Can Learn More!
In summary, the take-home message is that a combination of open-mindedness, a solid foundational knowledge of disease processes, and continuous learning, coupled with a compassionate heart, ensures that you can be a critical thinker positively influencing outcomes at the bedside.
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a high-caliber critical thinker today, you can strengthen your critical thinking skills by seeking more education in your field. Advancing your knowledge with a degree from colleges like Labouré College is the first step on the road to a successful career. They offer flexible, affordable degree programs that can help you reach your goals.