Critical Thinking and Nursing Practice

Critical Thinking and the Nursing Process
This week I have learned that the ability to think critically is an essential part of the nursing process. Critical thinking is defined in the book as a combination of reasoned thinking, openness to alternatives, an ability to reflect, and a desire to seek truth. From learning about critical thinking skills in concepts class and learning about health assessments in foundations class, I can see how critical thinking skills can be utilized when doing health assessments. Purpose of a Health Assessment

The purpose of a health assessment is to gather information about a patient’s overall status. A nurse performs a health assessment to observe the patient’s responses to an injury, disease, or illness so that the nurse can help the patient correctly deal with the problem. This is interesting to me because I assumed the main role of a nurse was to help the doctor diagnose and treat an injury, disease, or illness. Critical Thinking Skills and How I Can Apply Them

A health assessment includes a health history and a physical examination. During the health history portion, as a nurse, I must gather information from the patient. This includes patient demographic data, past health history (past problems and illnesses, treatments, and surgeries), family health history, current medications, and reason for visit. I will have to ask questions and listen carefully to the patient to determine what information is relevant and what is not. I must evaluate the patient objectively, without biases to determine what the problem is and what assistance is needed.

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During the physical examination portion, I must gather data through observation and touching. The purpose is to observe the patient’s physical and psychological responses to injury, illness, or disease. A nurse needs self-knowledge to prepare for the exam. Having self-knowledge will mean knowing my skill and comfort level, as well as, knowing if I need to review material or get help. This is something I did not realize. Coming in to this program I was nervous about clinicals because I do not want to make a mistake with a patient. I was worried that I would not have learned enough to know exactly what to do in every situation. My fears have been alleviated since learning that even
professional nurses may need to get more information or ask for help. I will have to record the information obtained from the assessment in a way that can be easily located and reviewed. After the assessment, I would need to create a care plan that may include further assessment or some form of intervention. When making this plan, I will need to consider what option is best by exploring as many alternatives as possible. I may need to get creative to meet the patient’s needs. I will have to explore the advantages, disadvantages, and consequences of each option. After implementing the plan I will need to determine the effectiveness of the intervention and determine if there needs to be any changes. Each step of an assessment ties into the critical thinking skills.

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