Critical Thinking: you have it or you don't. Agree or disagree? - page 3

by LTCnurse11

18,061 Views | 88 Comments

I was told during my brief stint working med surg that you either have critical thinking or you don't. Thoughts?... Read More


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    Great points everybody! No, I do not see critical thinking in black and white. That's too oversimplified in my opinion. I do agree with those who say that the environment in which you were born and raised and the environment which you live in has great impact. Not only that life experiences greatly impact critical thinking. No two people are alike supposedly, so if you are a teacher, instructor, or educator and you see potential, you just may have to spend extra time nurturing a new nurse. Sometimes, it's just a matter of that new nurse becoming confident and encouraged in his/her practice. That's why I think that new and even some experienced nurses grow immensely having a mentor.
    JB2007, ~*Stargazer*~, and Spidey's mom like this.
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    I agree, but I also think it's more 'rounded' than that. I think that nurses either have the critical thinking it takes for the job or they don't, but they don't necessarily all have to have the same level of critical thinking, if that makes sense
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    I define critical thinking as the ability to make the best educated guess based on the knowledge you have. I'm pretty sure nursing school the NCLEX thins out the non-critical thinkers. After that, it's just a matter of experience. I think you continue to develop critical thinking throughout your career though, it becomes easier with use.
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    it's obtained
    JB2007 likes this.
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    Quote from workingharder
    I don't think there is a standard definition of "critical thinking", so I'll give my definition.n that they are lacking in the ability to use critical thinking, only that partition of it that relates to nursing.
    At least as important as a definition would be some way of measuring critical thinking skills. I get so tired of people saying things like "BSN prepared nurse have better critical thinking skills than nurses with ADNs." Or ICU nurse have better critical thinking skills than ER nurses do". Unless one has a way to measure critical thinking skills such statment are nothing more than opinion.
    aknottedyarn and gummi bear like this.
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    It's just more stupidity. Another label of nonsense. I guess someone needs a label or they won't survive.

    As in everything, if you put in the time and effort into it, soon you will become proficient. And, as in everything, some become more proficient than others ...yawn.
    gummi bear likes this.
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    Our minds are pliable and always learning so everyone can develop critical thinking if they focus on achieving it. You might be a quick thinking person but if you don't have much experience your critical thinking will be fast but may not be accurate. There are many shades to critical thinking such as speed, judgment, experience, knowledge, prioritization skills, overall in my opinion the most the skill most associated with critical thinking is judgment or the ability to know what's right and what's wrong. Than one have to ask what are we critically thinking about some people might be good at critically think of one think while others may not. In the end you can critically think about your own question.
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    Quote from GrnTea
    If common sense were common, more people would have it. If more people valued critical thinking because they understood its irreplaceable applicability to best practice, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
    This assumes an end goal of maintaining best practice standards, which not all nurses strive for unfortunately.

    I think most all nurses use critical thinking - whether they are deciding how to expend as little energy as possible during a shift or connecting the pieces of the best practice puzzle.

    As for new nurses....It usually isn't until a novice has mastered some sort of work flow that the lanes of thought open up for the more abstract goal oriented thinking. Once skills and procedures become a matter of rote instead of an exercise in problem solving themselves, the focus can then shift from task orientation to big picture integration. Even the most natural critical thinkers can fall short early in their careers if not allowed to master the work environment before being pressured to perform to an expert standard.
    dudette10, GrnTea, AnonRNC, and 3 others like this.
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    I think alot comes with experience
    imintrouble and gummi bear like this.
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    Critical thinking......I still cannot adequately define it. Kind of like Justice Potter who said of obscenity "I can't define it but I know it when I see it." For me it means a sort of fluidity in thinking, common sense, and a pinch of experience thrown in the mix.

    I do not think you can say that someone either has it or does not, but I do think that many people have a greater ability naturally than others. Does this mean that someone will NEVER be able to critically think? Not always. Sometimes it is a matter of support and education. It is also true that some people just cannot master it no matter how much education or support they receive. It is also true that there are those who are pretty good critical thinkers most of the time but have those shining moments when you have to wonder if they left their brain at home that day. I count myself as a member of this group.

    At my previous job we oriented frequently and in batches of 5 or more. Usually one of the group would quickly distinguish themselves as the strongest and one would quickly distinguish themselves at the bottom. What separated these nurses? Their ability to critically think. As time went by the position in the group may change as some of the others developed their abilities but occasionally we would encounter one or more that stayed stagnant solely because they just could not master critical thinking. So yes time and experience can develop it, improve it, and build on the ability. Some nurses who fall short on one unit may eventually rise to the top on another. The difference can be a slower pace, more experienced nurses as teachers, understanding peers, or management who is truly vested in growing their employees or a combination of these.

    It has been my experience that those nurses who possess less than adequate critical thinking skills glob on to protocol with all their might. The protocol is law regardless of the situation! I will give you an example. Post-op unit with a manager who is HUGE on standards of care, skip, leap, etc. DVT prophylaxis was a big deal and nurses learned quickly to push for sub-q heparin or lovenox. We had a couple of nurses who would become personally offended when a patient was not on DVT prophylaxis. They would become irate, try to bully you in report as to why you did not get it and then they would call the first year and get an order. They would then gloat when you returned the next day about how they got the order and you did not! It just did not occur to them that giving heparin to someone with an active head bleed a blood thinner was not a good idea, after all there was a protocol. You could explain it until you were blue in the face but they just would not get it. This led to many of our MD's writing orders like: DO NOT PLACE PATIENT ON HEPARIN, DO NOT REMOVE FOLEY WITHOUT ORDER, DO NOT HOLD LOPRESSOR WITHOUT SPEAKING TO DOCTOR etc. it was pretty sad.
    cardiacrocks likes this.


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