Critical thinking includes metacognition, the examination of one’s own reasoning or thought processes while thinking, to help strengthen and refine thinking skills.
Independent judgments and decisions evolve from a sound and the ability to synthesize information within the context in which it is presented.
It involves reasoning and purposeful, systematic, reflective, rational, outcome-directed thinking based on a body of knowledge, as well as examination and analysis of all available information and ideas.
Critical thinking leads to the formulation of conclusions and the most appropriate, often creative, decisions, options, or alternatives.
Interpretation is used to determine the significance of data that are gathered, and analysis is used to identify patient problems indicated by the data. Explanation is the justification of actions or interventions used to address patient problems and to help a patient move toward desired outcomes.
Evaluation is the process of determining whether outcomes have been or are being met, and self-regulation is the process of examining the care provided and adjusting the interventions as needed.
In today’s health care arena, the nurse is faced with increasingly complex issues and situations resulting from advanced technology, greater acuity of patients in hospital and community settings, an aging population, and complex disease processes, as well as ethical and cultural factors.
Traditionally, nurses have used a problem-solving approach in planning and providing nursing care.
The nurse interacts with the patient, family, and other health care providers in the process of providing appropriate, individualized nursing care.
The culture, attitude, and thought processes of the nurse, the patient, and others will affect the critical thinking process from the data-gathering stage through the decision-making stage; therefore, aspects of the nurse-patient interaction must be considered.