Critical Thinking and Its Relevance in Nursing Practice

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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. 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.29). 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. 25) 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...
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