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

Professionalism   (39,313 Views 89 Comments)
by LTCnurse11 LTCnurse11 (Member) Member

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

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madwife2002 has 26 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN.

1 Follower; 74 Articles; 4,777 Posts; 120,758 Profile Views

Yep I agree you either have it and understand it completely or you just dont

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RNperdiem has 14 years experience as a RN.

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I disagree with most black and white statements like that.

Life is more of a spectrum.

New nurses might have a less critical thinking is some situations than a more experienced nurse.

Critical thinking can be developed and increased in nurses who really want to learn how.

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69 Posts; 3,432 Profile Views

I agree RNperdiem but I've heard a few people make that statement. I'm a new nurse and I still need to learn many things. Some people get it easier but others have to work at it.

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OnlybyHisgraceRN is a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC and School Health.

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I think critical thinking comes with time, experience and confidence. I haven't met any brand new nurse that was able to critically think as an experienced nurse would right out of nursing school.

I do believe some people are cut out to be nurses and some are not.

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workingharder has 2 years experience.

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I don't think there is a standard definition of "critical thinking", so I'll give my definition. In my world, critical thinking is not innate but, rather a learned system to process information to reach a reasonable and logical conclusion.This ability is gained by education, instruction, and (mostly) by experience. Most people, I believe, are born with the ability to learn critical thinking. The ability to put two and two together, or assemble the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

We all use critical thinking in our daily lives to some extent. Whether driving a car, building a boat, or setting a budget. In the nursing profession, we learn to watch a patient's behavior, V/S, and reactions to drugs. Few people ( I would guess) enter nursing school with the assumption that they will be guarding against physician errors. Yet, every time we receive a new order that is exactly what we do. We learn this trait by education and experience.

Some of us, no doubt, never attain the breakthrough point where we are able to deduce what is going on internally with our patients. This doesn't mean that they are lacking in the ability to use critical thinking, only that partition of it that relates to nursing.

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4,412 Posts; 33,759 Profile Views

Critical thinking. I don't want to be a critical thinker, where has that ever got anybody?

It's more like street smarts, nursing street smarts.

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69 Posts; 3,432 Profile Views

My experience with patient care relating to critical thinking has drawn together through various experience in long term care, EMS and a little med surg. Surprised to hear the nursing manager speak to the fact that you either have critical thinking or you don't. Mind you this person has only been a nurse for 5 years and only worked that floor in the hospital.

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NurseCard has 13 years experience as a ADN and specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

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After two years of nursing school and almost 10 years as an RN,

I STILL don't know the exact definition of "critical thinking". Sad, huh?

In my opinion, it involves a lot of common sense. Something that

indeed, a lot of people simply do not have. Take my mother in law,

for instance.

Take my mother in law, please!! (ba-da-bum!)

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69 Posts; 3,432 Profile Views

Very, very interesting. I'm enamored to hear this feedback.

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BrandonLPN has 5 years experience as a LPN.

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Well, wikipedia defines critical thinking as: "reasonable reflective thinking focused on what to do in a given situation."

Usually I'm the first one to jump on the common sense bandwagon. And I do still think that common sense beats education every time. But a person can be very street smart, but lack the knowledge base to make the best decisions as a nurse. Also, there's lots of booksmart nurses who lack the common sense to be able to apply all that education for anything beyond trivia and passing tests.

I think good critical thinking is where common sense and knowledge intersect.

So, yes, I think a nurse *can* develop their critical thinking skills through experience and study. But the most important factor, common sense, you're born with.

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366 Posts; 6,705 Profile Views

I agree with some of the others that it's a mixture of common sense, probably some "street smarts" too....and a lot of gut instinct.

Where I work, the patients are mostly physically healthy for the most part. Nurses tend to overlook medical problems since that's not our primary focus in the mental health field.

I've caught quite a few patients already though in my short time on the job who needed medical attention. I didn't have to do any "critical thinking" really. I just knew (instinct + common sense + nursing knowledge) that something wasn't "right."

For example, just the other night a patient woke up in the middle of the night, started walking around, and when I called his name, he just had this look on his face and I knew something was wrong. It didn't require any critical thinking for me to realize that something was wrong...I just knew. Now, figuring out WHAT was wrong might have taken some more "critical thinking" once he got to the ER or in the doctor's hands, but knowing that SOMETHING is wrong is the most important thing for nurses to realize and that can't be easily taught. Time and experience probably make a person better at recognizing when something is wrong, but some people are probably born with a better instinct than others. Same scenario....a more experienced nurse was sitting right beside me and thought the patient should just go back to bed and the "look" he had was just because he was disoriented from getting up in the middle of the night. I wish that had been the case, but it wasn't. I wouldn't say that nurse lacks critical thinking, but probably lacks instinct, common sense, or both.

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