Critical Thinking

By: Anita Hapshie

Nurses use critical thinking every day. As you become more experienced, it becomes second nature. What really is critical thinking, does it matter, and how does it play out in your nursing career? Are there behaviors or characteristics that are seen in people who are critical thinkers?

The answer to the first few questions is critical thinking is part of nursing that is an essential skill used for every decision made that effects patient care. What is it? Simply put, it is the ability to process information about a patient and decide, based on the information given, what is the best course of action. It is doing what is in the best interest of the patient to ensure the best outcome for that person.

Does someone who can critically think show certain behaviors or characteristics? Yes, people who are critical thinkers show certain behaviors. Some of those characteristics are independence of thought, impartiality, perspicacity into personal and social factors, humble cerebration and deferral crisis, spiritual courage, integrity, perseverance, confidence in the justification, interesting thoughts and feeling of research, and curiosity.

Is it possible to develop any of these behaviors? That is what will be discussed in the coming issues of the Taylor Tales. This issue will address ways of developing the characteristic of independence of thought. Here are five strategies to help you develop independent thinking.

  1. Unplug from all things electronic. Instead of being swayed by outside sources, limit your exposure to social media as well as the news media. This allows you to look at things through your own eyes, rather than someone else’s.
  2. Seek out new experiences that challenge your perception of things. Look at something from the outside looking in. Even if it is travelling to a different country or learning about different cultures or religions. The idea is to change the path you are on.
  3. View the situation from a different perceptive. There are always two sides to every issue. You see a situation one way and another person may see it in a completely different way. This is like looking in from the outside.
  4. Change it up. Instead of always eating at the same place or eating the food, try a new restaurant or a new recipe. Go outside of your comfort zone.
  5. Challenge what you believed to be true. Nursing is one profession that “handed down” procedures that, in some instances, may or may have been backed by evidence-based practice. One you have researched what you believed to be true is true, then you have confirmed, with certainty, that the evidence supports your belief. When someone says, “I have a stupid question,” the best answer is “there are no stupid questions, except for the ones you don’t ask. They are the ones that get you in the most trouble!”

Once you have developed or improved your independent thinking, you will create a world of possibilities that are limitless.


O'Leary, T. (2007, July 23). 5 Ways to develop independent thought. Posted by Falconer, E.