Critical Thinking: you have it or you don't. Agree or disagree? - page 4

by LTCnurse11 18,864 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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    I agree that you have it or you don't. Though as a new grad, you don't have the same pool of knowledge to draw from that an experienced nurse does. I don't care how good you are at putting puzzles together- if there are lots of missing pieces, it's going to be difficult.
    tewdles, joanna73, imintrouble, and 1 other like this.
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    Strongly disagree. People grow and learn new skills every day.
    Aurora77, GrnTea, joanna73, and 4 others like this.
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    Quote from BlueDevil,DNP
    Strongly disagree. People grow and learn new skills every day.
    Strongly agree with you.
    imintrouble likes this.
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    I believe critical thinking skills are those we develop as we learn to think at a higher level. An example of this is root-cause analysis---for many of us, it's not enough to document that our patient fell and what happened to him as a result; we investigate the incident much like a detective, researching the possible causes, and then going beyond the obvious to get to the precipitating factors so we can try to prevent the next fall.

    Yes, some people have an easier time than others in learning these skills, and there are some who never get out of the starting gate---they do everything by rote for their entire lives, and thus do not make good nurses. I think that critical thinking can be taught to some extent; after all, we don't come fresh from nursing school fully equipped with the knowledge that a 20-year veteran possesses. And yes, almost anyone can be taught to insert an IV, drop an NG tube and so forth; but if the basic building materials aren't there---if a person's brain isn't firing on all 8 cylinders, shall we say---it's all but impossible to make him or her understand the rationale behind the task. Therein lies the critical-thinking piece, IMHO.
    dudette10, Aurora77, tewdles, and 4 others like this.
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    Quote from Sugarcoma
    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.
    You raise an interesting point. I think that in order to even begin to be a critical thinker, you have to first be able to accept ambiguity. A natural critical thinker expects more than one answer to a question, more than one solution to a problem, or more than one way of looking at things. A learned critical thinker accepts more than one answer to a question, more than one solution to a problem, or more than one way of looking at things. Those who struggle with critical thinking reject the possibility that there is more than one answer to a question, more than one solution to a problem, or more than one way of looking at things. Plenty of "all or nothing" thinkers out there.
    dudette10, Aurora77, tewdles, and 7 others like this.
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    The ability to critically think has haunted me. I have some of it down, but I think sometimes I go too far in thinking that anything is possible, which brings me back to, only one thing is the best possibly. But I don't think I'm quite there in picking the best one.

    Quote from triquee
    Those who struggle with critical thinking reject the possibility that there is more than one answer to a question, more than one solution to a problem, or more than one way of looking at things. Plenty of "all or nothing" thinkers out there.
    I agree with you in that this is why some people struggle with it, but not an absolute. You just demonstrated that you reject the possibility of there being different reasons for struggling with critically thinking.
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    Quote from SUNFL0WER
    I agree with you in that this is why some people struggle with it, but not an absolute. You just demonstrated that you reject the possibility of there being different reasons for struggling with critically thinking.
    I'm not sure what you're saying here. I never once stated that I reject the possibility of there being different reasons for struggling with critical thinking. In fact, earlier on in the thread, I clearly stated that even those with the innate facility for critical thinking can struggle with it - if not given the proper tools to develop it in specific environments, situations or circumstances.

    A person can reject ambiguity for a number of reasons. In my first post, the reason being that the novice does not yet have the facility to deal with ambiguity because he/she does not have a firm enough skill base to draw from. He/she must suspend the acceptance of ambiguity to some degree in order to develop a solid skill base.

    My second post was in answer to a poster who described an individual or set of individuals who should have known better. They had the tools to be able to tell the difference, as experienced nurses, they had the skills – but chose instead to follow black and white thinking to the letter rather than think/act beyond that and accept that the application of their skills should be tailored in “gray” type situations.

    I could read some studies and probably come out with all sorts of mitigating circumstances for rejection of ambiguity, but the fact would remain that rejection of ambiguity could very well be at the root of the struggle with critical thinking. Identifying the cause of rejection will help to overcome it, no doubt - but the end goal is the same - overcoming it...It's that old saying if you want to solve a problem, you have to first identify that there is a problem.
    Last edit by metal_m0nk on Jan 7, '13
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    Critical thinking requires development, not many people are born with a highly developed level of critical thinking. Most people are born with enough to keep you alive and keep you going. School and life experience helps you develop what god gave you. No one was born a nuclear engineer.

    Unless of course you are one of the few genuine geniuses who was born how to do advanced calculus.
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    Disagree! You don't pop out of the womb knowing how to be a nurse. Likewise, critical thinking isn't something you just have or don't have. It's all a lifelong learning process.
  10. 0
    Perhaps it is just that overcoming obstacles to critical thinking that may have been deeply ingrained in upbringing and childhood make it difficult for some to develop critical thought as adults.


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