Critical thinking in nursing practice is a reasoning process that enables the nurses to generate and implement approaches for dealing with patients. Critical thinking should be applied to all phases of the nursing process.
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During the assessment phase of the nursing process, the nurses obtain, verifies, and analyzes clients’ data before communicating it to the relevant departments. The nurses should apply critical thinking aspects such as scientific knowledge base, experience, skills, and standards when collecting and analyzing the data from patients. The nurses should use their skills to collect relevant information from the patient (Wilkinson, 1996). Information that will lead to a better understanding of the patient’s condition should be collected. The experience of the nurses and scientific knowledge base should enable them to understand how to proceed with the patient’s case.
According to Wilkinson (1996), the diagnosis phase of the nursing process is aimed at identifying the real problem of the patient. The scientific knowledge base and clinical experience aspects of critical thinking are important in understanding the kind of illness that the patient is suffering from. Professional standards guide the nurses in making a judgment about the treatment criteria of the problem. The nurse is supposed to individualize care at this stage. The strengths of the client should be identified because they play a crucial role in developing an efficient nursing plan. The actual and potential problems identified are used in the planning stage of the nursing process.
This stage focuses on determining the immediate priorities, establish expected results, identify interventions, and recording an individualized plan of care. The nurses should use their clinical experience and scientific knowledge base to determine the immediate priorities. The professional standards will help the nurses understand the nursing interventions needed to achieve the expected outcomes (Tucker and Flannery, 1996). Nursing care plans are written guidelines for patient’s care. The plans should be organized carefully to help nurses identify actions to be delivered quickly. A nursing care plan that is prepared according to nursing professional standards ensures that resources for care are well coordinated. A nurse handling several clients in a day will not be confused when there is a definite plan of action.
Implementation of nursing actions should be a thoughtful process. The nurse should use their competencies and experience to determine the patient’s current status before implementing any action. The nurses should check if there are any new problems that would necessitate an adjustment of care plan. In some cases, the condition of the patient may worsen or improve before the care plan is implemented (Wilkinson, 1996). The nurses should use the professional standards, experience, competence, and scientific knowledge base to assess if there is any development that would warrant an immediate change in the care plan.
The response of the patient to nursing actions is measured at this stage. The nurses should use the aspects of critical thinking towards determining if the nursing practices used are effective in achieving the expected outcomes. The data on patient’s progress should be collected on a continual basis. The effectiveness of nursing practice is assessed using the data collected on an on-going basis. The nurses use critical thinking to adjust the care plans based on the patient’s progress. The priorities could be redefined at this stage. According to Yildirim (2011), at the evaluation stage, the nurses determine “whether the desired outcomes have been achieved, whether the interventions were effective and whether changes need to be made” (p. 5).
The nursing profession relies on of the aspects of critical thinking when addressing the patients’ problems. The nurses should not attend to a client without following the nursing process.
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Tucker, D., & Flannery, J. (1996). The student process for success: The nursing care plan. Nurse Educator, 21 (3), 47-50.
Wilkinson. J. M. (1996). Nursing process: A critical thinking approach. Menlo Park. CA: Addision-Wesley.
Yildirim, B. (2011). Critical Thinking in Nursing Process and Education. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(13), 257-262.