Critical thinking – the foundation of good nursing practice
There are lots of ‘trendy’ words in each work environment but one of the most important concepts which appears to be increasingly missing particularly in aged care nursing is that of critical thinking and reflective practice. Critical thinking is the core foundation of good nursing practice.
It is essential to evaluate what is occurring clinically for those in care and regularly reviewing what is being done for each individual resident along with what else needs to be done in order to provide the best care. The skills of critical thinking may not be instinctive for example for those nurses coming from a schooling system which promotes ‘rote’ learning and deters from challenging senior staff. To question another may be seen in some settings as disrespectful however in the field of clinical care, to challenge and question is essential. The attributes of those who critically think and reflect on nursing practice and care outcomes use evidence-based practice (EBP) guidelines including current EBP policies and procedures to form decisions.
Some of the skills of critical thinking are more important than others and certainly the ability to reflect while communicating with other members of the team is essential to safe and person centred care. The nurse who has developed critical thinking skills is able to interpret, understand and explain the meaning of information. This can be event based or data based eg; reading lab result forms. Investigating possible interventions based on the information at hand and analysing which will achieve a desired outcome is also part of reflecting and critically evaluating a clinical scenario. Assessing the value of information to determine it’s relevance, reliability and credibility in relation to a particular clinical presentation is also necessary.
There are potential barriers to optimising clinical outcomes by clinical staff when a pre-determined bias or fixed mind-set are applied to a set of data or resident clinical presentation. It’s only in the bringing together of information through evaluation, analysis, communicating, referencing EBP guidelines and a growth mind-set that care can be optimised.
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