Define critical thinking and evidence-based practice. Discuss what critical thinking in nursing practice entails and explain why it is important. Discuss the role of critical thinking and evidence-based practice as they relate to patient outcomes.
Critical Thinking and Evidence-Based Practice
Critical thinking refers to the skillful insight, analysis, synthesis, and assessment of information gathered through experience, observation, communication, and reflection that inform decisions. On the other hand, evidence-based practice (EBP) refers to the meticulous, explicit, and careful utilization of current best existing evidence to inform decisions about patient care and clinical decisions. EBP also entails the incorporation of clinical expertise, critical reasoning, understanding, judgment gained through professional training and experiences to inform clinical decisions (Dang & Dearholt, 2018). Taken together, critical thinking entails a process of problem solving and reasoning where all clinical decisions and judgments are anchored on evidence. This paper will discuss the application of critical thinking in nursing practice and how critical thinking and EBP relate to patient outcomes.
Critical Thinking in Nursing Practice and its Importance
Nursing practice is often challenging and complicated. Nurses always make life-changing decisions when caring for patients with intricate needs. They deal with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds with varying health care needs. They help patients and their families through emotional and stressful experiences and act as authority figures in demanding situations. Addressing these complex situations in nursing practice requires critical thinking to help in making accurate judgments and clinical decision making. According to Liu et al. (2021), critical thinking in nursing entails applying knowledge and experience to recognize patient issues and guide clinical judgments by opting for alternatives, assessing evidence, identifying clinical patterns, and using intuition. It also involves questioning, gathering, scrutiny, synthesis, interpretation, deduction, reasoning, application, creativity, and corroboration of data. The implementation of critical thinking skills in nursing also requires the development of methods and cognitive skills needed in a research investigation, problem-solving, and decision making (Ludin, 2018). In nursing research, critical thinking is applied in study analysis, justification of introduction and conclusion, differentiation of facts and opinions to evaluate the integrity of literature sources, and drawing valid conclusions.
Critical thinking plays essential role in nursing. Nurses are often required to make decisions about patient care and every decision made impacts the outcome of care. Consequently, critical thinking skills are essential in the decision-making process to ensure safe, skillful, and efficient nursing intervention that improves the quality of care (Ludin, 2018). Critical thinking also helps nurses to analyze the patients’ condition and the current treatment, identify changes in patient status, anticipate outcomes, and identify possible concerns. Moreover, critical thinking plays role in logical decision-making and innovative improvement.
The Role of Critical Thinking and Evidence-Based Practice in Patient Outcomes
Critical thinking is employed by nurses in the decision-making and problem-solving processes to improve patient outcomes. Critical thinking is a vital process for effective, safe, and skillful nursing interventions (Ludin, 2018). On the other hand, EBP improves patient outcomes by using the best and most current research to enhance the safety and health of patients while minimizing the overall costs of health care. It also enables nurses to review research to understand the risks or benefits of specific medical and nursing interventions (Dang & Dearholt, 2018). Critical thinking is essential for the knowledge, skills, and processes required in supporting EBP.
Critical thinking and EBP are essential in the provision of patient care. The need for critical thinking and EBP is necessitated by the challenging working environment for nurses characterized by making life-changing decisions, caring for patients with intricate needs, dealing with patients from culturally diverse backgrounds and health care needs, helping patients and their families through emotional and stressful experiences, and acting as an authority figure in demanding situations. Critical thinking is a fundamental element in the implementation of EBP.
Dang, D., & Dearholt, S. (2018). Supplemental materials for Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice: Model and Guidelines. Sigma Theta Tau International.
Liu, M., Lin, Y., Dai, Y., Deng, Y., Chun, X., Lv, Y., & He, F. (2021). A multi-dimensional EBP educational program to improve evidence-based practice and critical thinking of hospital-based nurses: Development, implementation, and preliminary outcomes. Nurse Education in Practice, 52, 102964. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2020.102964
Ludin, S. M. (2018). Does good critical thinking equal effective decision-making among critical care nurses? A cross-sectional survey. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 44, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iccn.2017.06.002