Critical or reflective thinking has been widely promoted in nursing management and health care education as an effective approach for improving clinical decision-making, analytical and problem-solving skills of health care professionals.Critical Thinking in Health Care Synthesis Essay
Fero, Witsberger, Wesmiller, Zullo and Hoffma (2009) define critical thinking (CT) as a subjective thought process that involves assessment, analysis and interpretation of clinical events and scenarios. CT, at the health care administration level, has been associated with safe patient care, and better patient and staff outcomes.
In Fero et al.’s (2009) study, it was recommended that nurse educators develop instructional strategies that improve critical thinking in nursing students by training them to be critical in their judgment, continue inquiry, and handle complex clinical situations. This would prepare nursing students to become effective nurse leaders later in their career.
To achieve these results, the study identified “the initiation of independent nursing interventions, differentiation of urgency, clinical data reporting, providing relevant rationales and problem recognition” (Fero et al., 2009, p. 145), as the core training areas.
On his part, Drennan’s (2010) study explores the impact of Master’s training on the critical thinking of medical graduates. He reported that, compared to students taking undergraduate medical programs, postgraduate nursing students have better CT skills in “reflection, evaluation, inference and clinical reasoning” (2010, p. 429).
This finding reinforces Fero et al’s (2009) assertion that teaching strategies, which focus on essential CT skills help prepare students for clinical decision-making in the complex and dynamic clinical environment. It also underscores the benefits of exposure to reflective thinking during nursing education as a way of acquiring self-directed learning and reflective practice.
In this study, the medical graduates with a Master’s degree recorded higher CT scores compared to graduates from other levels (undergraduate diploma). This implies that the instructional strategies employed in Master-level training to improve the critical thinking of students. In view of this, Fero et al. (2009) write that better CT skills improve patient and staff outcomes. Experienced nurses make good managers due to their reflective practice and critical thinking skills.
Building on this premise, a systematic review of studies on critical thinking skills by Robert and Petersen (2013) found that reflective practice fosters safe and quality care delivery among health care professionals. This study found that professionals with effective CT skills use a case-based approach (model, borderline, related and contrary cases) in their practice. This approach is effective in clinical decision-making and problem-solving.Critical Thinking in Health Care Synthesis Essay
Compared to Fero et al.’s (2009) key CT skills of autonomous interventions, clinical judgment, and analysis and interpretation of problems, Robert and Petersen (2013) identify risk estimation, and analysis and evaluation of diagnosis as the key aspects of CT. Two sets of CT skills that are important to nurse managers have been identified in these studies. The first skill is autonomy in relation to medical interventions, problem identification and data reporting (Fero et al., 2009).