Critical thinking has become an indispensable part of the modern nursing practice. Nurses use their critical thinking skills to provide high-quality care and constantly improve their competence. Importantly, nursing students and new nurses specifically benefit from the use of critical thinking skills. They feel more confident and prepared to address the challenges of nursing practice (Chan, 2013). Such major critical thinking skills as problem recognition, critical decision making, prioritization, clinical implementation, and reflection are necessary for the provision of proper healthcare services (Berkow, Virkstis, Stewart, Aronson, & Donohue, 2011). This paper briefly examines the way some of these skills can be used in nursing practice and some reflections on the link between critical thinking, practice, and scholarship.
As for the ways to use critical thinking skills in nursing practice, these are multiple and vital. It has been acknowledged that critical thinking is essential in all the nursing processes including assessment, diagnosing, planning, implementation, evaluation (Marchigiano, Eduljee, & Harvey, 2011). For instance, clinical decision-making skills help nurses to understand the potential implications of various interventions. At the same time, critical skills associated with effective prioritization enable nursing professionals to identify the most urgent patients and sequence care for patients (Berkow et al., 2011). Reflection is one of the most important skills as it is related to constant improvement and development. Nurses reflect on their experiences, evaluate the implications of their actions, draw conclusions. They also initiate professional discussions of numerous issues, solutions, policies, and practices.
I constantly employ critical thinking skills to improve my clinical competence. I firmly believe that reflection is one of the central skills that enable a nurse to improve clinical competence. I always try to evaluate the decisions made during the day. This reevaluation helps me draw important conclusions that make me a more effective nurse. I learn from each case and every patient. I also become more confident and can make decisions faster, which is essential in many cases. Berkow et al. (2011) note that clinical implementation skills help nurses adjust care plans to the specific needs of patients, caregivers, and the community. I try to use such skills and make the provided care more patient-centered.
I also believe that critical thinking skills contribute to the development of nursing as they link to practice and science (and scholarship). The ability to analyze information, identify issues, and come up with solutions is critical for practice and science (Dias, David, & Vargens, 2016). I believe scholarship is one of the platforms for the development of the nursing field as it facilitates professional discussions. These discussions help scholars and practitioners share experiences and develop new methods and strategies. Scholarship cannot be effective without practice as the nursing practice is the platform for gaining experience, facing challenges, and learning about the needs of patients or other stakeholders.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that critical thinking skills enable nurses to improve the healthcare services provided. Nursing practice can be improved if nurses manage to employ critical thinking skills when diagnosing, assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating. One of the most important skills is a reflection as nurses can reevaluate decisions and draw conclusions that result in improvements. It is also clear that critical thinking can be regarded as a link between nursing practice and scholarship. The latter equips nurses with the necessary knowledge and facilitates information exchange.
Berkow, S., Virkstis, K., Stewart, J., Aronson, S., & Donohue, M. (2011). Assessing individual frontline nurse critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(4), 168–171.
Chan, Z. (2013). Critical thinking and creativity in nursing: Learners’ perspectives. Nurse Education Today, 33(5), 558-563.
Dias, J., David, H., Vargens, O. (2016). Science, nursing and critical thinking: Epistemological reflections. Journal of Nursing UFPE, 10(4), 3669-3675.
Marchigiano, G., Eduljee, N., & Harvey, K. (2011). Developing critical thinking skills from clinical assignments: A pilot study on nursing students’ self-reported perceptions. Journal of Nursing Management, 19(1), 143–152.