clinical thinking

One of the most important skills a nurse needs is clinical judgment. This is a skill that can be learned. Reflect on your own ability to critically think and the reading for this module.

When see yourself as a nurse and giving care, discuss what qualities and behaviors you possess that make you a person that would have good clinical judgment. What three strategies can you use to develop better clinical judgment? As a nurse, what areas of the nursing process do you think might be more challenging to you given the critical thinking and clinical judgment skills you have now?

Most of us don’t think about how we think. Thinking is a skill. In the reading critical thinking is defined as “your ability to focus your thinking to get the results you need in various situations.” This means that you are able to use your thinking abilities to clarify goals, examine assumptions, evaluate evidence, accomplish actions, and evaluate decisions or conclusions. And, it is when you are able to do this consciously you are “critically thinking.”

In nursing it is essential that we think critically because the decisions we make influence the care and health outcomes of others. Critical thinking also leads to clinical reasoning and then to making clinical judgments. It is when we are able to make informed and conscious clinical judgments we are able to provide safe quality nursing care.

View – “What is Critical Thinking?”

Critical thinking skills include reflection, interpretation, analysis, inference, and evaluation. Critical thinkers are open-minded, systematic, and have self-confidence. In your reading there are critical thinking indicators. Review these behaviors, qualities, and attitudes to see which you possess.

As described in your reading there area barriers to critical thinking. Just a few are age/maturity, one’s self confidence, past experiences, dislikes, prejudices and biases, one’s anxiety and fears, negativity, motivation. These potential barriers need to be in full awareness as a nurse can the can negatively affect clinical judgment.

When comparing critical thinking, clinical judgment, and clinical reasoning, you will find in your reading that the differences are critical thinking, and clinical reasoning are considered processes and clinical judgment is the result of the process. These are purposeful and end in outcomes.

One way nurses used critical thinking, reasoning and judgment is through the nursing process.

Nursing Process

The nursing process is a clinical reasoning tool. The phases of the nursing process are dynamic and organized steps that lead to clinical decision making. The nursing process includes assessment, analysis and identification of the problem, planning, implementation, and evaluation. When applied to client situations, the nursing process offers a way to organize information to make the best possible clinical decisions. The review of the nursing process in the textbook provides detailed information for each of the phases. You will be learning more about the nursing process in later courses. For now you want to think about it as an organized way of assessing and evaluating information and making informed decisions.

In this module the key emphasis is understanding the differences between critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and clinical judgment and your abilities in each of these areas.

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