​Critical Thinking in Nursing: Why It's Important and How to Improve

12 April 2023 By Libby McCaughey

Successful nursing requires learning several different skills to help communicate effectively with patients, families, and various healthcare teams to ensure that they deliver to best care possible. One of these skills is the ability to demonstrate critical thinking, and those who excel in critical thinking can ultimately set themselves up for career success.

Why are Critical Thinking skills so important?

Critical thinking in nursing refers to the ability to evaluate information, problem-solve, and make decisions based on evidence and impartial analysis. It is a crucial skill for nurses, as it helps them provide the best possible care for their patients. By using critical thinking, nurses can interpret patient data, communicate effectively with patients and their families, and work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals.

Examples of successful critical thinking areas include:

  • How you interpret information – the interpretation of patient data is an essential part of critical thinking, and you must be able to determine the significance of vital signs, lab values, and physical assessment data. You mus also think carefully about a patient's verbal and non-verbal communications, as these can help you to create the most effective treatment plan possible.

  • Impartiality – You must be able to evaluate the information based on the evidence you have seen, and not on the opinions of others. It is important to keep your view’s objective and impartial, and then communicate your findings effectively with the rest of the wider healthcare team.

  • Problem-solving – as a nurse, there will be many times when you encounter an unsteady patient status or conflict at work, and you need to be able to use critical thinking alongside your problem-solving skills.

  • Intuition – many people would describe intuition as guessing, but intuition in nursing can be vital. You have gained a lot of knowledge and experience throughout your training and various roles, and it is important to use everything when making you final decision.

  • Flexibility - No matter how hard you try, there will also be a degree of unpredictability in nursing, and when a patients status changes suddenly when you are short-staffed, you must know how to be flexible within your role. This is a characteristic that can help to lead to better patient outcomes when used correctly.

  • Perseverance – Using critical thinking in nursing is not something that will happen overnight, and you need to be willing to commit to using it throughout your whole career. You need to be able to find these solutions and solve any problems faced even when you have frustrations or difficulties.

  • Integrity – To be effective in nursing, you need to have the integrity to question your own personal beliefs and knowledge as much as you would challenge someone else’s. If you want to successfully use critical thinking in your nursing role, you will need to be able to learn from others and change the way you think in order to have the best patient outcomes.

How can you help yourself to think critically as a nurse?

1.     Learning from various resources: Reading nursing journals, engaging in conversations with colleagues, and attending educational programs are effective ways to stay updated with medical conditions and procedures.

2.     Reflecting on daily experiences: Nurses should take the time to reflect on their daily experiences and identify areas for improvement. This reflection can occur in a low-pressure setting, allowing nurses to make better decisions in the future.

3.     Being aware of personal bias and assumptions: Nurses should question their own personal beliefs and knowledge when making decisions. They should collaborate with their healthcare team, clarify any doubts, ask for help, and communicate effectively with their patients.

4.     Maintaining flexibility: Nurses should be able to adapt to changing situations, as nursing requires a unique approach for each patient. Nurses can also help others by sharing information and offering to help their colleagues improve their critical thinking skills.

By improving their critical thinking skills, nurses can provide personalised care, improve patient outcomes, and increase their career success.

How can Medical Staffing help you to improve your Critical Thinking?

Here at Medical Staffing, we aim to take away the stress and worry of assignments and finding the perfect role. Our team is here to make sure that you can put all of your focus on the job in hand, and really excel at want you do best.

If you are interested in letting us help you to focus on the job at hand, then get in touch with our friendly team today for more information.

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