The ability to think critically and a commitment to lifelong learning play an important part in a successful nursing education and career. To be aware of its own attitudes and learning styles is also important for success, not only for studying at university but also after graduation. This essay will discuss these issues and outline in how far they affect the success of education and career of a nurse. Requirements, trends and issues in a nursing career will also be discussed in this essay. Critical thinking is an ability that not everyone possesses (Smith, 1995).
One needs to develop the capacity of critical thinking, which brings with it a drastic change in “daily thinking”. People that not think critically have assumptions and biases and come to a conclusion far to early. It is not surprising that the majority of the population thinks in this way, because advertising in media and traditional biases and assumptions support this kind of thinking. A critical thinker is one that questions those biases and assumptions and looks at things from a skeptical view. One that separates facts from opinions exercises an important critical thinking skill (Smith, 1995).
People in today’s world experience a complete change of economy, environment and lifestyle. To survive in such a world, one needs to be able to make some changes too. This begins with changing the thinking and learning habit. Since the ancient age, humans learned one thing and did it over and over again because it never changed. Therefore, thinking was alike, only one assumption or conclusion was possible. Today, one has to be aware of the changes and needs to think critically to reach the right conclusion.
Especially in the nursing field, critical thinking plays an important role and is essential for success. As stated above, separating facts from opinions is a critical thinking skill and crucial in nursing. For example, a nurse has the opinion that malaria can be prevented by certain medications, but evidence through research shows that this is not quite true. In this case, opinion was confused with fact, which can have a dangerous outcome when the nurse gives a patient wrong advise. To prevent such incidents, thinking critically is indispensable and should be combined with the next issue, lifelong learning.
In today’s society, universities and other educational institutions are aware of the fast changing world and that a “degree is only an introduction to the complexities of the domain” (Candy, Crebert, O’Leary, 1994). Nursing is a good example that shows how complex a domain can be. In Australia, nurses graduate as general nurses but of course there are a variety of special fields for them to work in such as pediatrics or theatre work. This example makes obvious that lifelong learning is essential for those that want a challenging career.
Even people that do not want to specialise need to be aware of lifelong learning because medicine is developing constantly and fast. New medications, new technology and new diseases challenge the nursing profession and therefore lifelong learning skills are vital. According to Drucker (1980), Naisbitt (1984) and Toffler (1970) in Candy, Crebert and O’ Leary, 1994, the majority of people in our society will have more then one career in their life. This is another point that makes clear how important a commitment to lifelong learning is today, and not only for career and education but also for the daily life.
To be a successful lifelong learner and to make a commitment to lifelong learning, one has to be aware of its own learning styles. Honey and Mumford stated that not knowing its own learning style is a factor that can put young people off for a lifetime (Honey and Mumford, 1995). Every learning style is different, if it is the one of the pragmatist, reflector, activist or theorist. Each individual has also a different approach to learning and as Honey and Mumford stated, a “different bucked size” that the lecturer want to fill, which can be unsuccessful sometimes (Honey and Mumford, 1995).
It can be very helpful if an individual knows its ways of learning and styles of learning. It not only makes the learning process easier but also deepens the knowledge of the learned topic. It can also be argued that an individuals learning style might not change in a lifetime. One might experience in young age how to learn best and it is furthermore a fact of how one is brought up by the family. Parents that are strong activists for example, reflect it on their children. So it is not surprising that those children may be activists as well and learn as such.
But as stated above, this can be argued and there are many individuals in the world that do not take on their parents learning styles and some that might change learning styles over a lifetime because the previous style might not have worked out for them. In the state when one has to choose its own career, it is good to know what type of learner one is. As Honey and Mumford stated, ones occupation reflects on the type of learner. For example, nursing is an occupation where one needs to be an activist, which means that one involves its own fully and without bias and false assumptions in new experiences.
A person that is not able to do so might not be fit for this occupation. Therefore it is good to know what type of learner and person one is. Many people state that they would not be able to do nursing and that a nurse needs to be born to be a nurse. Of course, a nurse needs to be more than an activist, because she or he needs to listen and stand back and watch to learn. This is a reflector skill. However, it might be the right assumption that different learning styles in one individual are a healthy mixture that can aid to make ones career successful.
An understanding of issues, trends and requirements of ones career are important factors to succeed. It is clear that every career has its own requirements, trend and issues, but almost all have one thing in common in today’s society, they need professionals and workers with the ability of critical thinking and a commitment to lifelong learning. As mentioned earlier, the world is changing fast and so is its work environment (Paul and Willsen, 1993). The whole workforce has to be able to change as well to make sure they succeed. A succeeding workforce is important for each country because only so they can compete worldwide.
A nurse for example should know the requirements and trends of her or his chosen occupation because this can aid in succeeding. It would be disappointing for one to make an effort to study nursing and after graduation this person might not like it. Everyone should work out for oneself what one expects from the career and if one meets the requirements and also if one is aware of the trends and issues. Nurses need to be able to think critical and as mentioned above, they also need to make a commitment to lifelong learning because medicine is developing so fast.
Therefore the question rises “Is one able to think critically and make this very important commitment to lifelong learning? ” Another issue, ongoing nurses need to be aware of is the trends of the occupation. Where will it lead to? Will one be safe in this occupation and not loose the job because of cutting of workplaces and replacing through computers. It is obvious that the just mentioned trend is not important for the nursing occupation, but many others are replaced by technology and computer high tech.
Even this example shows clearly how important the commitment to lifelong learning is in this fast changing world. This fast changing world brings with it different issues in the majority of occupations. In the nursing occupation for example, important issues are wages and pay and the constant nursing shortage in Australia and worldwide. Cowin and Jacobsson stated that the pool of nurses would decrease, even if wages and images are raised and career pathways are improved (Cowin and Jacobsson, 2003). It is important to be aware of such issues because they aid in the matter of what can be expected from this career.
Furthermore, one needs to be aware of the image of the nurse, which evidently rose in the last decades from a doctors handmaiden to a responsible and critical thinking team member (Bloomfield, 1999). However, a person with critical thinking abilities and lifelong learning commitment and a understanding of issues, trends and requirements in the chosen career will not make any assumptions or biases, but much more make an effort to stop the nursing shortage and work as a respected professional in the health industry.
This essay showed how important the skills of critical thinking are and that a commitment to lifelong learning is essential in today’s ever-changing world. Knowledge and awareness of trends, issues and requirements were also discussed as an important role for succeeding in the chosen career. Hopefully, the reader gained some understanding of the topic and had an insight in the issues relating to the nursing career.