Critical Thinking: you have it or you don't. Agree or disagree? - page 5

by LTCnurse11 | 20,337 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


  1. 0
    Quote from triquee
    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.
    I see now. In your second post,

    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.
    The way you explained it, it was like saying everyone who struggles with critically thinking is because they fail to think there is more than one answer. Which that statement has only one answer to why people struggle with critically thinking, excluding any other possibilities.

    But in this post,

    Quote from triquee
    but the fact would remain that rejection of ambiguity could very well be at the root of the struggle with critical thinking.
    You make it more clear that there may be more than one answer. Make sense? If not, I understand... I kept confusing myself because it's just a giant circle.

    But now I get where you were going with it.

    Quote from triquee
    It's that old saying if you want to solve a problem, you have to first identify that there is a problem.
    You remind me of a wise owl with this statement. You probably are...
    Last edit by B00P on Jan 7, '13
  2. 1
    Everybody does critical thinking every day of the week. Every job. Every task. Every interaction with anything breathing, even some things that aren't breathing. Critical thinking is just a fancy way to say problem solving. How to get from point A to B. Understanding the best possible course of action to achieve a certain goal.
    Of course you can be taught that. Experience is undeniably the biggest factor, but how well you do at it depends on drive, determination, and intelligence. Throwing in intangibles like confidence, motivation and self worth, is what really determines who will excel and who won't.
    Spidey's mom likes this.
  3. 5
    Part of the issue with critical thinking "you either have it or you don't" is that some people, no matter how much they are mentored, no matter how much or how little experience they have, should not be employed in careers where problem solving skills are essential. Period. We all know someone who fits this desciption. Most definitely, this personality has other valuable skills and characteristics, but analytical problem solving just isn't one of them.
    dudette10, Sugarcoma, Aurora77, and 2 others like this.
  4. 1
    I'm not sure if I agree with that, or not, especially when it comes to nursing. Many new nurses may be great critical thinkers, but, are busy assimilating information and the situations presented, therefore they may appear to not be great critical thinkers. Nursing is a combination of academic and practical skills that can only be enhanced through experience. Understanding concepts from a textbook is different from having the experience needed to truly understand the issues at hand, so when it comes to critical thinking as a nurse, I would say that even those that may not "get it" right off the bat are certainly able to demonstrate critical thinking in time.
    msn10 likes this.
  5. 4
    I had a fellow student ask me last semester what is critical thinking exactly. I told her the best I can gather is it is not just knowing what but to know why. Example; It isn't just knowing a pt with COPD can't get high O2 levels but why they can't.
    msn10, RNperdiem, imintrouble, and 1 other like this.
  6. 0
    Quote from SUNFL0WER
    I see now. In your second post,

    The way you explained it, it was like saying everyone who struggles with critically thinking is because they fail to think there is more than one answer. Which that statement has only one answer to why people struggle with critically thinking, excluding any other possibilities.

    But in this post,

    You make it more clear that there may be more than one answer. Make sense? If not, I understand... I kept confusing myself because it's just a giant circle.

    But now I get where you were going with it.

    You remind me of a wise owl with this statement. You probably are...
    Thank you for reconsidering what I was getting at.

    It can be kind of circular because in order to present a perspective for discussion I have to state it - but just because I didn't state it *and* 17 other perspectives doesn't necessarily mean I haven't considered those other perspectives or that I'm especially attached to the one I presented beyond exploring it as a possibility and discovering whether it is worth considering or not applicable.

    I do believe that there is often more than one answer to a question, often informed by certain circumstances or mitigating factors. Like the example of the novice nurse with innate facility for critical thought who is unable to integrate it into a specific environment because the rules of the environment (and thus the parameters for applying critical thought successfully to that environment) are temporarily foreign to him/her or not well understood by him/her. Or conversely, the experienced nurse who knows the rules of the environment, knows that there are areas of gray and yet still thinks and acts in terms of black and white. Both are struggling with the same problem, for very different reasons, but the problem must still be addressed for each if either has any hope of overcoming it.

    Extending the concept...

    Just because they have the same problem doesn't necessarily mean it should be addressed in the same manner for both. Expecting the novice to perform as though he/she were intimately familiar with the rules of the environment before he/she has developed that intimate familiarity is not a reasonable expectation.

    On the other hand, expecting the experienced nurse to perform to a standard befitting her knowledge of the rules of the environment is a reasonable expectation.

    But now I'm off on a tangent. So I'll take a break for now. LOL
  7. 6
    Look, at this point, I'd really value more logical, systematic thinking apart from emotional-reactionary thinking.

    Also will add thatthe serious study of higher level mathematics helps with "critical thinking," especially word problems of higher order.

    Dumbing down math and sciences for nursing programs is and will always be a huge mistake.
    Sugarcoma, msn10, Susie2310, and 3 others like this.
  8. 6
    It seems to me that many of these posters are equating "critical thinking" with "experiential knowledge." This is not accurate. There are lots of people who have tons of experience who couldn't reason their ways out of damp paper bags. There are new nurses with little knowledge whose critical thinking is already in place-- and part of the evidence for that is that they mindfully seek out more parts to the puzzle when they can't see the solution clearly right off the bat.

    This is not to say that these newbies were born with critical thinking skill, although those who were raised in an environment that rewarded and reinforced independent thought, curiosity, and problem-solving probably bring more to the table than those who weren't. Critical thinking can-- must-- be learned.
    dudette10, AnonRNC, Sugarcoma, and 3 others like this.
  9. 1
    Quote from LTCnurse11
    Grntea, I believe in your type of thinking. It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing but what "critical thinking" really is. My whole purpose in posting this question was to point out how assenine it is to make a statement as such. This so called "all or nothing" mentality was verbalized to me several times during my experience on this particular med surg floor. The nurse manager stated she thought I was too task oriented, slow and overall was concerned with my performance and said "I think you could put a patient at risk". I had a lukewarm relationship with one preceptor in the beginning of my orientation for nights then I was switched around between 2 preceptors for the day shift because my first one stated "I don't think I could train you." That made my anxiety skyrocket. I never, ever caused harm to a patient but I was constantly asking questions. I had minimal experience with IV therapy prior to starting on med surg, that made me uncomfortable. I admit, I was very focused on tasks and just learning to get through my shift. I had never worked an acute unit an was anxious going in and felt like I lacked general support and understanding. At the time of my hire on this floor I was an RN for 9 months. I took that PBDS test and got an "unacceptable" twice. Based on that, my nurse manager decided to say I "lack critical thinking". I looked up my diagnoses, asked questions and overall tried my best to be interested in any and all learning opportunities.

    Anyway, I guess in a round about way I'm saying that I feel that being a critical thinker is created through the nursing practice. Not some special gift. All nurses must work to do this which is why it's called nursing "practice".
    LTCnurse11, on the subject of critical thinking, I was wondering, given your post above, if perhaps some of the difficulties you are experiencing are due to not using the nursing process (the systematic approach to identifying a patient's problems and to implementing nursing actions to solve those problems) as effectively as you could: i.e. assessment (subjective and objective); diagnosis; planning; implementation, and evaluation. Perhaps considering how you are using the nursing process in your practice would be helpful - of course only you can determine if my suggestion is applicable to your situation. If you do determine that it would be helpful for you to improve in this area and need resources, there are books on using the nursing process in clinical practice.

    I hope this is helpful, and I wish you the best.
    GrnTea likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from Susie2310

    LTCnurse11, on the subject of critical thinking, I was wondering, given your post above, if perhaps some of the difficulties you are experiencing are due to not using the nursing process (the systematic approach to identifying a patient's problems and to implementing nursing actions to solve those problems) as effectively as you could: i.e. assessment (subjective and objective); diagnosis; planning; implementation, and evaluation. Perhaps considering how you are using the nursing process in your practice would be helpful - of course only you can determine if my suggestion is applicable to your situation. If you do determine that it would be helpful for you to improve in this area and need resources, there are books on using the nursing process in clinical practice.

    I hope this is helpful, and I wish you the best.
    As far as using the nursing process, I am familiar how to use this in my practice. My problem did not lie with just that area but the orientation, lack of experience and general failure in putting the pieces together. I was feeling disconnect during my experience there. Not sure if only I was not getting it or a combination of factors. Acute care was very new, and I know now what it takes to make it sink or swim.


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