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Critical Thinking and Its Relevance in Nursing Practice

Sample Essay An Essay On Critical Thinking and its Relevance in Nursing Practice By: Graham Ochieng On 4th December, 2012 Abstract The practice of nursing has continually evolved from conventional caretaking to one that calls for a qualified practitioner to posses’ excellent critical thinking skills. This evolution has largely been brought about by the number of reported mishandling of patients by nurses.

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To counter this trait, the concept of critical thinking was inculcated in every nursing practitioner’s curriculum with the major aim of equipping the nurses with the much needed analytical capability that would consequently place them at a better position when it comes to taking care of as well as collecting information from patients. This essay will define the concept of critical thinking, explain its relevance with regard to nursing practice and also discuss the links between critical thinking and between the flags strategy. Introduction

Critical thinking is a paramount necessity that all aspiring nurses and those already in the practice should always demonstrate and put into effective use. Major technological progressions in the field of medicine have entirely transformed the practice of nursing to the extent that being in possession of outstanding academic training no longer qualifies one as a professional nurse. In addition to academic excellence, nurses need to be critical thinkers if they are to smoothly and effectively handle the day to day process of a rapidly changing practice.

In today’s nursing profession, decision making is a common routine. Nursing practitioners are required to come up with logical and concise decisions in situations whereby there exist multiple decisions and not one entirely correct decision. Such scenarios require critical thinking capabilities that will ensure the dissemination of the most appropriate response with regard to the situation in question. Definition of Critical Thinking The concept of critical thinking has had its fair share of definitions since time immemorial.

Literature review on critical thinking (Lai 2011 p. 5) cites that critical thinking can be defined from two approaches; philosophical approach and cognitive physiological approach. The philosophical approach focuses on the hypothetical thinker, enumerating the qualities and characteristics of this person rather than the behaviors or actions the critical thinker can perform (Lewis & Smith 1993, Thayer- Bacon 2000 as cited by Lai 2011 p. 5).

On the other hand, cognitive physiological approach focuses on how people actually think versus how they could or should think under ideal conditions (Stenberg 1986 as cited by Lai 2011 p. 7). Facione argued that critical thinking is purposeful, self regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation and inference as well as the explanation of evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual consideration upon which judgment is based (Facione 1990 as quoted by Rubenfeld and Scheffer, 2009, p. 9). This particular definition of critical thinking has become accepted as the best suited in nursing practice and as such has been incorporated as a major explanation of critical thinking with regard to nursing. Relevance of Critical Thinking in Nursing Practice Critical thinking is of absolute importance in nursing practice when assessing patients’ vital observations. Nurses with developed critical thinking skills have the capability of making decisions better. Lipe and Beasely (2003 p. 5) argues that for an individual to be able to make high quality decisions, evaluation of every likely solution is necessary. Nurses who are critical thinkers have demonstrated the ability of effectively assessing a given situation and coming up with the most appropriate and creative response without being weighed down by the possibility of failure. Critical thinking also plays a major role in boosting the confidence level of professional nurses. This eventually culminates in group thinking detachment, whereby the nurse feels more comfortable in thinking like an ndividual instead of relying on the security of numbers. Pursuant to Masters (2009 p. 192), critical thinking utilizes the concept of reflective thinking, defined as the deliberate thinking and careful consideration of all possible solutions. Such kind of a thinking perspective is of crucial importance when dealing with complex situations which forms part and parcel of a nursing practitioner’s daily routines. In most cases, patients usually bombard nurses with a lot of diverse information.

A qualified nurse with superior critical thinking skills is able to quickly reflect on the given information and effectively chooses the best course of action. Without this skill, the chances of the nurse being overwhelmed by the patients’ barrage of questions and information are quite high, leading to the formulation of clouded judgments which consequently worsen the situation even more. Critical thinking skills enhance communication between the nurse and the patient. The process of assessing patients’ vital observations involves asking of questions and supply of answers.

Nurses with perfected critical thinking skills are able to initiate a friendly dialogue that seeks to question all the underlying perceptions as well as expounding more on the given scenario with the principle aim of coming up with clear, concise and detailed explanation for the situation in question (Daniels 2004 p. 191). Communication skills enhanced through critical thinking include but not limited to advanced interpretation ability that enables practitioners to draw logical conclusions, advanced analytical capability and strong evaluation skills.

The practice of nursing requires high levels of self-regulation and flexibility. Perfecting these crucial personal traits is achieved through critical thinking. Consequently, nurses with a strong sense of self-regulation are able to maintain high levels of operational standards while at the same time disseminating quality nursing practices to patients. Flexibility resulting from critical thinking gives qualified nursing practitioners the ability to come up with justifiable responses based on the information or data availed as well as allowing them to probe other possible courses of actions.

Critical thinking skills enable nurses to accurately assess, interpret, evaluate and infer conclusions with regard to a patient’s vital observations. Links Between Critical Thinking and Between the Flags Strategy The Between the Flags Strategy is a medical program developed by the Clinical Excellence Commission and the Greater Metropolitan Clinical Taskforce and seeks to address safety issues in healthcare facilities and hospitals. This strategy positively correlates to critical thinking since most of its constituents require skills pertaining to critical thinking.

The Between the Flags Strategy is comprised of five key elements that are paramount to its successful implementation and extended sustenance. These elements include but not limited to; Standards for the criteria used for early recognition of the deteriorating patient, Clinical Emergency Response System, education packages for all staff to give them the knowledge and skills to confidently recognize and manage the deteriorating patient and standards for key performance indicators to be collected, collated and used to inform the users of the system and those managing the implementation and continuation of the program. Clinical Excellence Commission, n. d. , para 1) The concept of critical thinking relates to all of the above key elements concerning the Between the Flags Strategy. Critical thinking skills are necessary if practitioners are to adhere to the formulated standards used for early identification of deteriorating patients. Personal traits such as keen situation analysis and evaluation developed only from critical thinking allows nurses to detect signs of deterioration among patients early enough.

Effective management of deteriorating patients requires all nurses to employ assertive communication techniques gained from critical thinking so as to be in a position of collecting key performance indicators that can then be used in the between the flags strategy. Case Scenario Analysis After analyzing the data collected from the investigation and vital observations regarding Mrs.

Wilson’s case scenario, the nursing practitioner should proceed to initiate the following critical thinking responses from the patient; a) whether the patient was under any drug prescription prior to and during the onset of dizziness and headaches, b) activities of the patient with regard to physical exercises, and c) whether the patient has ever experienced the particular problem in question before. Evaluation of the availed responses is crucial to determining the next course of action.

During the evaluation phase, the nursing practitioner is able to “measure the outcome of care given in the light of objectives set” (Sirra 2005 p. 87). It is only through evaluation of the critical responses provided by the patient that nurses can achieve substantial grounds enabling them to recommend the most appropriate healthcare care decisions. According to Timby (2008 p. 25), the process of evaluation assists in the determination of the level of nursing care effectiveness.

Evaluating the responses provided will enable the nurse to settle on the best clinical diagnoses leading to implementation of the most effective nursing plan. Conclusion Critical thinking skills forms an essential part of every nursing practitioners’ career. This concept has been a subject of contention due to the varying definitions set forth by different scholars and academic professionals. Skills learnt as a result of critical thinking assist nurses in their routine healthcare practices, allowing them to make calculated and logical decisions as well as draw conclusive and concise inferences.

Nursing practitioners should always endeavor to nature competitive critical thinking skills with the aim of enhancing their health care skills. Bibliography Clinical Excellence Commission (C. E. C). Programs Between the Flags-Keeping patients safe Retrieved from http://www. cec. health. nsw. gov. au/programs/between-the-flags Daniels R. (2004). Nursing Fundamentals: Caring & clinical decision making. New York: Delmar Learning. Esther S. (2005). Nursing Processes (2nd ed. P. 87) New Delhi: Elseiver. Lai R. , M. (2011). Critical Thinking: A literature review.

New Jersey: Pearson. Lipe K. , S. , & Beasely S. (2003). Creative Thinking in Nursing: A Cognitive Skills Workbook. Philadelphia: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins. Masters K. (2009). Role Development in Professional Nursing Practice (2nd ed. p. 192). Ontario: Jones and Bartlet Publishers. Rubenfeld G. , M. , & Scheffer K. , B. (2009). Critical Thinking Tactics for Nurses: Achieving the IOM Competencies. Ontario: Jones and Bartlet Publishers. Timby K. , B. (2008). Fundamental Nursing Skills and Concepts (9th ed. P. 25). Philadelphia: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins.

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