Unarguably, the nursing profession is suitable for individuals naturally inclined towards caring for others and helping them. However, critical thinking ability is a highly essential nursing skill that nurses at all levels must possess to survive in this competitive sector.
Critical thinking is a laudable ability to identify problems quickly and devise the best possible solutions for them. Moreover, it also involves choosing an effective method for solving the problem with the available resources. However, the process doesn’t stop there, as critical thinkers are also focused on improving their abilities daily. Hence, after executing a plan, they reflect on it to figure out if the solution they choose was the most effective one or not. These aspects make it evident that while critical thinking skills are crucial for nursing, they’re transferable and applicable in every aspect of life. Individuals can leverage critical thinking skills in various settings, further necessitating its significance.
Importance of critical thinking skills in nursing
Nurses learn all sorts of skills during their education and training. But these skills are typically limited to and revolve around patient care, such as taking vitals or dressing a wound. Nonetheless, if nurses fail to think properly and make immediate rational decisions during emergencies, half of the nursing skills won’t prove useful.
Apart from nursing routines, you’ll have to make everyday decisions regarding your well-being, which require critical thinking skills. Without them, you won’t be able to handle situations well.
What’s more, nurses who strive to land senior leadership positions are urged by their mentors and supervisors to develop critical thinking skills. Since nurse leaders face challenges that require strategic solutions, honing critical thinking and effective decision-making skills becomes indispensable. Fortunately, online programs like the masters in nursing online enable nurses to sharpen their critical thinking abilities alongside other essential nursing skills. Pursuing higher academic programs allow nurses to boost their career advancement prospects by instilling relevant nursing skills.
Moving on, let us discuss the significance of critical thinking skills in nursing.
1. Influences patient care
Patient care is the highest priority for every nurse. For this reason, they must be physically and mentally available to them on every beck and call. Their critical thinking skills will be crucial for patient care, such as detecting changes in the health status of patients and taking actions accordingly.
Moreover, it also includes responding to patient needs in times of emergency.
2. Recognize shifts in patient’s health
In the current medical system, monitors and health readouts are used in everyday practice if the doctors need to observe the patient. However, some aspects of observation and health assessment are only possible by humans. In this case, nurses are trained to assess the patient, diagnose the illness, and predict health outcomes. Moreover, they must plan the patient care chart accordingly, implement these plans, and evaluate the results of patient treatment and care processes.
While most of these aspects are also possible through monitors and health readers, only a human eye can notice preliminary signs of deteriorating health. Early complications or recognizing early signs of pain and abnormalities are crucial, as they can end up saving the patient’s life.
3. Leads to an honest exchange of ideas
Critical thinking skills are not limited to patient care only. They play a crucial role in teamwork and make it possible for nurses to communicate properly with physicians or other nurses. In the case of complicated patient cases, a team of healthcare professionals contributes their skills and expertise to ensure the well-being of their patients. In such cases, being a team player and learning how to communicate properly is one of the determining factors upon which the patient’s well-being depends.
In serious cases such as mentioned above, a nurse’s critical thinking skills can help the team identify aspects of patient care that were not considered by the team before. Moreover, the nurse can help them make logical decisions by arguing against or in favor of something.
Even in situations that don’t need working on a critical care patient with a team of doctors, a nurse must know how to communicate with their colleagues and attend doctors.
4. Ensures patient safety
As a nurse, it’s your responsibility to protect the patient from harm and uphold their interests. That’s why as a nurse, you must be aware of the patient’s medical history and relevant issues, such as their medicinal sensitivities, allergies, etc. Moreover, the nurse must also be aware of the patient’s personal preferences, including religious and cultural needs. These aspects impact the patient care choices and reflect the patient’s mental state. In addition to that, nurses have to protect the patient in emergencies. These emergencies can be such that it can get difficult to differentiate right from wrong. But critical thinking skills are useful in this case as well, as they help save lives during emergencies.
5. Find quick fixes
There’s no nursing subfield in which all the work goes smoothly. Nurses are trained to -always- be ready to respond to unexpected emergencies. In these situations, using critical thinking skills can help control many major issues. These skills allow a nurse to troubleshoot the problem immediately and find feasible solutions with given resources. Likewise, these skills are especially beneficial when standard protocols are not useful and systematic approaches to patient care are not working. In these cases, the ability to devise quick, logical, and creative solutions to the problem can improve patient outcomes.
6. Plays a role in rational decision-making
Even though healthcare is a scientific discipline with proper processes and mandates, there are plenty of situations where creativity is crucial. The aspect of creativity can help nurses make new plans and find new solutions in a matter of seconds and minutes. Devising solutions, making quick decisions, giving orders, and acting on them can be high-risk, high-reward experiences, but it’s crucial in nursing work.
While critical thinking skills are mostly applicable in the emergency ward or intensive care unit, they also apply to other situations. These transferable skills are useful in work and everyday life and help people maintain their cool during stressful situations. Hence, living life with logic and constant evaluations help people detect opportunities and use them to their advantage. Ultimately, it ensures progress in professional career and personal life as well.