Critical Thinking For Nurses

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Albert Einstein If you talk with any group of nurse leaders, the challenge of promoting critical thinking with their nursing staff will inevitably enter the conversation as a key concern.

A nurse leader recently told me about a sentinel incident in her hospital. The frantic pace of healthcare today has led many nurses to become very task oriented as a survival mechanism.

Each day brings new challenges, from learning to use health information technology to juggling multiple priorities for several patients.

Having sound critical thinking (CT) and clinical reasoning (CR) skills makes the difference between keeping patients safe and putting them in harm’s way.

Applying the above points, critical thinking is “important thinking (or reasoning) that needs to be done to assess and manage any problem or concern.” For example, you need to know how to assess systematically and comprehensively, how to prioritize, how to prevent and control undesirable situations, and how to evaluate progress.

The terms critical thinking and clinical reasoning are often used interchangeably, but there’s a slight difference between them.

Without asking questions, you may falsely assume you have consensus or that staff understand an issue or problem.

Moving from telling to asking may be challenging but it is the way to help staff grow.

Let’s begin by looking at some synonyms: • Reasoning is a commonly used synonym for thinking.

• The term critical in critical thinking is synonymous with important, necessary, or required.

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