Monday, February 17, 2014

Tips for Student and New Nurses: Developing your critical thinking skills

critical thinking, nursing student, prioritization, renee thompson, rtconnection

I am smart – I mean “book” smart. From my first nursing degree in an associate program to end of my doctoral program – I’ve never gotten a B in any class. However, when I was in my undergraduate program, I was so overcome with fear that I wouldn’t be a good nurse. 
Because although I’m book smart, I have no common sense! Heck, even my Dad still calls me an airhead!
You see, to be a good nurse, you need both – smarts AND a dose of common sense. This common sense I talk about can be considered “critical thinking skills” and I had to work to develop mine.

Action Steps to develop your critical thinking skills
·      Play the “what if” game – when providing care, ask yourself, “What if after giving that Lasix I didn’t see an increase in urine output? What would I do?  What if I walked into my patient’s room at the moment he coughed his trach out? What if…  Do this for your most common patient diagnoses and risks.
·      Active questioning – think about the most common patient problems you see on your unit. Question yourself – What is the most common complication of _______? How will I know is they are having that problem? What assessment would tell me this patient was having that complication? What would I do? How can I prevent? And so on, and so on.
·      Practice prioritization – every time you listen to report, even if you only have one patient, ask yourself whom you would see first and why? When faced with multiple patient demands, what would you do first…and why? By practicing prioritization, you’ll be able to make better decisions when you’re practicing!
I’m glad to say that I’m a good nurse – both smart and with a hefty dose of critical thinking. But remember, I had to work at it and still do!
Thanks so much for reading. Would LOVE to read your comments about the topic of critical thinking.
Thanks for choosing to become a nurse. I’m cheering for your success!
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