This Blog was originally published on Calling All Nurses – Being able to critically think in nursing, is being able to organize thoughts in a systematic and logical manner to ensure safe nursing practice and high-quality care. Although nursing students may hear the words: “The NCLEX will challenge your critical thinking skills”, during their program of study, it is important to understand that critical thinking is more than an NCLEX buzzword. In fact, critical thinking in nursing is more than 90% of the work.
To emphasize on how critical thinking is fundamental to being a proficient nurse, let’s take a quick look at the basic systematic foundation in which nurses’ organize their thoughts – The Nursing Process.
The Nursing Process is a five-part systematic decision-making method focusing on identifying and treating responses of individuals or groups to actual or potential alterations in health. The five steps in the Nursing Process are as follows:
Assessment – Collecting objective patient data through a variety of methods such as interviewing, physical examination, patient response, measurements, and lab specimen collection.
Nursing Diagnosis – Identifying actual or potential health risks, and defining the severity of health alterations based on the individual needs of the patient.
Planning – Creating an individualized nursing care plan to prevent, reverse, slow, or relieve the symptoms and/or progression of illness based on the patient’s needs.
Implementation – Strategic delivery of patient care plan and nursing intervention(s) based on the patient’s individual needs.
Evaluation – Analyzing the effectiveness of nursing intervention in meeting the patient’s individual needs, and meeting anticipated patient outcomes.
The nursing process is a natural progression of critical thinking, and it will help you in making safe and effective clinical decisions for your patients. Whether it be caring for a patient in a clinical setting, taking an exam in class, or sitting for the NCLEX, following the five steps of The Nursing Process can guide your critical thinking, and will surely help you in making the best decision.
One final word of advice: don’t get caught up in the ambiguity of certain concepts or buzzwords such as “critical thinking”. Rather, embrace the systematic tools that are provided to you during your time in nursing school, and you will soon find yourself being a valuable addition to the nursing profession!