What Is Critical Thinking?

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What Is Critical Thinking, Clinical Reasoning, and Clinical Judgment? This chapter at a glance
Critical Thinking: Behind Every Healed Patient Critical Thinking: Not Simply Being Critical Rewards of Learning to Think Critically How This Book Helps You Improve Thinking Brain-Based Learning Organized for Novices and Experts What’s the Difference between Thinking and Critical Thinking? Critical Thinking: Some Different Descriptions A Synonym: Reasoning Common Critical Thinking Descriptions Critical Thinking, Clinical Reasoning, and Clinical Judgment Applied Definition Problem-Focused Versus Outcome-Focused Thinking What about Common Sense? What Do Critical Thinkers Look Like? Critical Thinking Indicators (CTIs) What’s Familiar and What’s New? What’s Familiar What’s New 4-Circle CT Model: Get the Picture? Thinking Ahead, Thinking-in-Action, Thinking Back (Reflecting) Putting It All Together Critical Thinking Exercises Key Points/Summary

PRECHAPTER SELF TEST
Decide where you stand in relation to the learning outcomes.

Learning Outcomes
After completing this chapter, you should be able to: 1. Describe critical thinking (CT), clinical reasoning, and clinical judgment in your own words, based on the descriptions in this chapter. 2. Give at least three reasons why CT skills are essential for students and nurses. 3. Explain (or map) how the following terms are related to one another: critical thinking, clinical reasoning, clinical judgment, decision-making, problem-solving, and nursing process. 4. Identify four principles of the scientific method that are evident in CT. 5. Compare and contrast the terms problem-focused thinking and outcome-focused thinking. 6. Clarify the term critical thinking indicator (CTI). 7. Use CTIs, together with the 4-circle CT model, to identify five CT characteristics you’d like to improve. 8. Explain why knowing the nursing process is needed for clinical reasoning and passing the NCLEX® and other standard tests. 9. Identify the relationships among healthy workplaces, learning cultures, safety cultures, and CT. 10. Compare and contrast the terms thinking ahead, thinking-inaction, and thinking back.

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CHAPTER ONE What is Critical Thinking, Clinical Reasoning?

CRITICAL THINKING: BEHIND EVERY HEALED PATIENT
A powerful quote from an online BLOG sets the stage for this chapter: “Behind every healed patient is a critical thinking nurse.”1 Critical thinking—your ability to focus your thinking to get the results you need in various situations—makes the difference between whether you succeed or fail. Whether you need to set patient priorities, figure out how to collaborate with a difficult doctor, or develop a plan of care, critical thinking—deliberate, informed thought—is the key. The journey to developing critical thinking starts with having a good understanding of what it IS. Too many nurses believe that critical thinking is like an “amorphous blob” that you can’t describe—something that you’re “just supposed to do.”2 This approach is not helpful. You must be specific about exactly what’s involved when thinking critically in various contexts. Thinking is a skill, just like music or tennis. It flows and changes depending on current conditions, and it requires gaining specific knowledge, skills, experience, and hands-on practice. This chapter helps you begin the journey to improving thinking in two steps: (1) First you learn why health care organizations and nursing schools stress the need for critical thinking. (2) Secondly, you examine exactly what critical thinking is and how it relates to clinical reasoning and clinical judgment.

CRITICAL THINKING: NOT SIMPLY BEING CRITICAL
Before going on to examine what critical thinking in nursing entails, it’s important that you realize one thing: critical thinking doesn’t mean simply being critical. It means not accepting information at face value without carefully evaluating it. Consider the following description: Critical thinking...
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