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Critical Thinking

By:   •  Research Paper  •  1,283 Words  •  June 13, 2010  •  1,449 Views

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Critical Thinking

Abstract

This paper will define the meaning of critical thinking. I will provide an example of a personal experience when critical thinking had to be used. This paper will also exam the benefits and importance of using critical thinking during the decision-making process. The references used for this paper are from assigned eRsource readings and weekly reading assignments.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is an essential tool to good decision-making. Everyone has biases or prejudices which can hinder good decision making. Critical thinking varies depending on the underlying motivation. When decisions are based on selfish intentions; they are often marked by manipulation of ideas to service one’s own interest. To be an effective critical thinker one has to have the ability to look at the facts and make a decision based solely on the facts. Critical thinking is a tool to be used in every aspect of ones life. Critical thinking can help us to become better thinkers, better people, and can help us to make better decisions.

Defining Critical Thinking

Before one can truly define critical thinking one has to look at thinking in general. According to dictionary.com thinking is, “to have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decision, etc.” In order for thinking to be useful to others it has to be communicated in some form. Thinking can take on many forms, to include; communicating our thoughts through language, images, art, scientific formulas or mathematics (Kirby and Goodpaster, 2007). Unexpressed thinking is important as well because it allows one the opportunity to think before speaking or acting (Kirby and Goodpaster, 2007). Critical thinking starts with that thinking process, whether it is something you thought of yourself or a situation brought to your attention by someone else, the initial thought starts the critical thinking process. Thinking and critical thinking complements each other. Thinking is viewed as a natural thing to do, but to a large extent one’s thinking is biased, distorted, partially uninformed or prejudiced. Some of the personal barriers to critical thinking includes; enculturation, self concept, ego defense, rationalization, self serving biases, and emotional influences (Kirby and Goodpaster, 2007). Critical thinking is defined as, “the process of gathering information, analyzing it in different ways, and evaluating it for the purposes of gaining understanding, solving a problem, or making a decision” (Carter, Bishop, and Kravits, 2007). Critical thinking involves more than just thinking. It is a process that has to be practiced in order to be perfected. One has to be able to set aside any personal barriers in order to make the best decision.

Critical Thinking Personal Experiences

Critical thinking in the nursing field is essential. Critical thinking for a nurse helps ensure safe nursing practices and quality patient care. As a nurse I have to be able to listen to what the patient is saying and ask the right questions to be able to provide the best care for that particular patient. Some patients are very open and they will tell you everything you need to know and others are not so open and I have to dig for answers and be careful not to offend them. Before moving I had the pleasure to work as a hospice nurse. As a hospice nurse you have to have good critical thinking skills because in many cases the nurse may be the only medical person who comes in contact with the patient before he or she dies. I was responsible for going out and visiting patients and assessing their health status and reporting any changes back to the doctor. I had this one very special patient to me; she and I were the same age. She had hepatitis and was dieing. One day when I went in to see her she was very upset because the mail carrier had delivered mail for her husband and in it was a letter from an attorney’s office. She decided to open it and inside the envelop was papers her husband had filed with the court declaring her mental unstable and awarding sole custody of their only child to him. She was very upset and made several comments about ending it all. This situation required some critical thinking on my part because I knew I still had other patients to see that day, however, I also knew I could not leave her alone. I called my supervisor and explained the situation to her and she was able to get some of the other nurses to see my afternoon patients for me. I wanted to be there for her to offer support and to allow her to vent her anger. Most of that morning was spent with me just listening to her and I think

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