In the past, staff nurses with seniority were given first choice of days off, leaving more junior nurses dissatisfied.
But by far, the most effective way to expand critical thinking skills is through education.
When you acquire a broader view of health care, from a systems and policy perspective, you equip yourself to make strategic decisions at the managerial or executive level.
Critical thinkingcan seem like such an abstract term that you don’t practically use. The truth is, that as nurses we can’t escape critical thinking .
Let me give you a few examples from my career in which critical thinking helped me take better care of my patient.
He peed like a racehorse (and was NOT happy with me for making that happen! And he was off of oxygen before he went down to get his pacemaker. She was on a dilaudid PCA and still complaining of awful pain. She said the pain meds would just knock her out and she’d sleep for a little while but wake up in even worse pain. Diabetics with neuropathy would talk about similar pain… “So if this works for their nerve pain, could it work for a patient who has had an amputation? I called the PA for the surgeon and asked them what they thought about trying something like gabapentin for her pain, after I described my patient’s type of pain and thought process. I’ll write for it and we’ll see if we can get her off the opioids sooner.” She wrote for it. It takes a few days to really kick in and once it did, the patient’s pain and discomfort was significantly reduced.
My patient just had her right leg amputated above her knee. I thought about other patients that report similar pain.. Then I remembered that many of my patients with diabetic neuropathy were taking gabapentin daily for pain.
Establishing a consistent routine of writing at least weekly in a journal can improve critical thinking (Profetta-Mc Grath, 2005).
Writing about critical incidents, complex situations that require decision making, as well as emotions and feelings about interactions and events stimulate analysis, synthesis, judgment, and creativity that are components of critical thinking.
What do I know that will get rid of extra fluid and make him pee? I ran over my thought process with a coworker before calling the doc. I called the doc and before I could suggest anything, he said.. The told the doctor when he rounded that morning that the meds weren’t doing anything. She kept requiring more and more meds and I’m supposed to someone wean her off? Critical thinking is something you’ll do every day as a nurse and honestly you probably do it in your regular non-nurse life as well.
OK, so he’s got extra fluid that he can’t get out of his body.. She maxed it out every time, still saying she was in horrible pain. She said to get rid of those other pain meds because they “didn’t do a damn thing,” and to “just give her that nerve pain pill because it’s the only thing that works”. She was able to work with therapy more because her pain was tolerable and was finally able to get rest.