More emphasis has been placed on critical thinking in the nursing profession in response to various changes being experienced in the health care environment. This is because critical thinking enables nurses to provide effective care to patients, while they cope with some of the expansion roles that are linked to the complexities presented by the modern healthcare systems. This paper will evaluate the power of critical thinking skills in nursing care, and evaluate how wound care nurses can use critical thinking (Lipe & Beasley, 2004).
There are dramatic changes taking place in most healthcare organizations, in the modern world. This has led to tremendous growth in theory and technology used in the healthcare sector. Nurses have also been exposed to these changes, for example, the demand for quality care, changes in technology, increased patient acuity and complex disease processes. Such scenarios reveal how powerful critical thinking can be in the nursing profession. For example, for nurses to deal with some of the complex changes taking place in the healthcare sector, they must have sufficient skills that enhance higher levels of thinking and reasoning abilities. Critical thinking is a powerful tool for any practicing nurse because, for them to cope with the increasing complexities presented by the modern healthcare systems, they must employ critical thinking.
During practice, nurses sift through information and they attempt to adapt knowledge to enhance problem clarification and solution (Lipe & Beasley, 2004). There are instances when they may be involved in making decisions during practice. In some cases, the decisions may be associated with situations that do not have a correct response. In such instances, critical thinking may be powerful in evaluating some of the simple and complex situations encountered by nurses during their day-to-day activities. This shows that critical thinking is powerful in nursing as it provides a means that can be used by nurses in evaluating whether an assessment or information is captured accurately by a nurse in order to articulate meaning.
The power of critical thinking skills in nursing can also be illustrated from its role in quality improvement. All professional nurses are normally required to account for the value of care that patients receive on a daily basis. Therefore, nurses are normally required to employ their critical thinking abilities in enhancing quality improvement initiatives in healthcare. They can do this by coaching their peers or fellow staff members on ways that can be used to improve patient care. Some of the quality initiatives in nursing that may require critical thinking are identifying clinical indicators that can be used in reframing problems and evaluating actions (Rubenfeld & Scheffer, 2010).
Critical thinking also helps nurses to develop creative solutions, it gives them a broader outlook and helps them to develop multiple pathways that are essential for quality improvement initiatives. If nurses fail to employ some of these skills during practice, they may fail to address some of the problems resulting to poor quality, inequitable and dangerous nursing care. Any preoperative nurse normally needs to be adept with critical thinking because it helps them solve various problems that they face in the workplace. Critical thinking is not just a powerful tool in solving problems, but it also plays a significant role in the establishment of priorities in the healthcare setting. The nursing process is known as the philosophy involved in solving patient problems. This does not just reflect on the practical skills possessed by nurses, but it encompasses some of the philosophical beliefs concerning human value and critical thinking is normally intrinsic to the framework (Rubenfeld & Scheffer, 2010). Thus, critical thinking is a powerful tool in nursing because it involves an active process that requires a nurse to prioritize and choose aspects that are essential in care after which they can make sound decisions.
Wound care in nursing is beyond changing and dressing the wound. This process also requires the nurse to employ critical thinking skills. The nurse is normally required to troubleshoot and evaluate how a patient got the wound. The other issues that may need to be examined are factors that are hindering the wound from healing, and how the different treatments may be helpful in enhancing the healing process. These processes show that in developing this plan of care, nurse must normally employ critical thinking. In some circumstances, a nurse may be required to take care of a patient with a wound. This is normally an essential part of clinical practice and can only be effective if critical thinking is employed. Research in wound management has also presented new techniques of managing different types of wounds among patients. Some of the techniques are sophisticated and may require a nurse to employ critical thinking (Alfaro-LeFevre, 1999). Applying critical thinking skills in wound management maximizes the opportunities for healing, reduces the impact of the wound on the patient and may reduce the costs and durations of care. Therefore, nurses need to employ critical thinking to improve the process of wound care.
One critical thinking skill that may be used by a wound care nurse is wound assessment. An example can be illustrated during the assessment of a granulating wound. In such a case, the nurse may be required to employ critical thinking by examining the texture, color and the granulation tissue present in the wound. For example, the nurses should know how to evaluate a healthy granulation tissue, which may be characterized by moisture and minimal bleeding. Assessment is a vital critical thinking skill employed by nurses because there are instances when a patient with a granulating wound may not be treated based on the appearance of the wound (Baranoski & Ayello, 2008). The nurse may be required to employ critical thinking by evaluating the psychological and nutrition factors that may affect wound healing. Such considerations play significant roles in enhancing optimum wound management. Nutrition, for example, tends to a vital aspect of wound healing. Therefore, when nurses employ critical thinking during assessment, they can identify the roles of nutrients in the process of wound healing.
The other critical thinking skill that may be used by a wound care nurse are careful considerations of some of the psychological issues associated with the wound. With such skills, the nurse can normally plan on the most appropriate intervention that can enhance the quick recuperation of the patient (Baranoski & Ayello, 2008). Wound care nurses, when choosing a dressing for the wound, may also use critical thinking skills. Wound dressing poses difficulties by making the selection of the appropriate dressing tough. This is because when the nurse uses an inappropriate dressing, then the patient may suffer from trauma and pain upon the removal of the dressing. Other than pain and trauma, inappropriate dressing may normally damage some of the delicate tissues underneath. This example shows that nurses are normally required to use critical thinking skills during wound management (Alfaro-LeFevre, 1999). This is because with proper evaluation, then the nurse is likely to know the depth of the wound, the amount of granulation tissue needed to fill the wound and the quantity of wound exudates. Such critical thinking skills ensure the nurse addresses the wound appropriately enhancing the healing process.
- Alfaro-LeFevre, R. (1999). Critical thinking in nursing: A practical approach. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
- Baranoski, S., & Ayello, E. A. (2008). Wound care essentials: Practice principles. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Lipe, S. K., & Beasley, S. (2004). Critical thinking in nursing: A cognitive skills workbook. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Rubenfeld, M. G., & Scheffer, B. K. (2010). Critical thinking tactics for nurses: Achieving the IOM competencies. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.