Which action should the nurse take when using critical thinking to make clinical decisions?
A. Make decisions based on intuition.
B. Accept one established way to provide care.
C. Consider what is important in a given situation.
D. Read and follow the heath care provider’s orders.
C - A critical thinker considers what is important in each clinical situation, imagines and explores alternatives, considers ethical principles, and makes informed decisions about the care of patients. Patient care can be provided in many ways. The use of evidence-based knowledge, or knowledge based on research or clinical expertise, makes you an informed critical thinker. Following health care provider’s orders is not considered a critical thinking skill. If your knowledge causes you to question a health care provider’s order, do so.
Which patient scenario of a surgical patient in pain is most indicative of critical thinking?
A. Administering pain-relief medication according to what was given last shift
B. Offering pain-relief medication based on the health care provider’s orders
C. Asking the patient what pain-relief methods, pharmacological and non-pharmacological, have worked in the past
D. Explaining to the patient that self-reporting of severe pain is not consistent with the minor procedure that was performed
C - Asking the patient what pain-relief methods have worked in the past is an example of exploring many options for pain relief. Non-pharmacological pain-relief methods are available, as are medications for pain. Administering medication based on a previous assessment is not practicing according to standards of care. The nurse is to conduct an assessment each shift on assigned patients and intervene accordingly. Pain is subjective. The nurse should offer pain-relief methods based on the patient’s reports without being judgmental.
Which action indicates a registered nurse is being responsible for making clinical decisions?
A. Applies clear textbook solutions to patients’ problems
B. Takes immediate action when a patient’s condition worsens
C. Uses only traditional methods of providing care to patients
D. Formulates standardized care plans solely for groups of patients
B - Registered nurses are responsible for making clinical decisions to take immediate action when a patient’s condition worsens. Patient care should be based on evidence-based practice, not on tradition. Most patients have health care problems for which there are no clear textbook solutions. Care plans should be individualized for each patient, not just for groups.
A charge nurse is supervising the care of a new nurse. Which action by a new nurse indicates the charge nurse needs to intervene?
A. Making an ethical clinical decision
B. Making an informed clinical decision
C. Making a clinical decision in the patient’s best interest
D. Making a clinical decision based on previous shift assessments
D - The charge nurse must intervene when the nurse is using previous shift assessments to make a decision; this is inappropriate. Nurses are responsible for assessing their own patients to make decisions. Making informed, ethical decisions in the patient’s best interest is practicing responsibly and does not need follow-up from the charge nurse.
Which action demonstrates a nurse utilizing reflection to improve clinical decision making?
A. Obtains data in an orderly fashion
B. Uses an objective approach in patient situations
C. Improves a plan of care while thinking back on interventions effectiveness
D. Provides evidence-based explanations and research for care of assigned patients
C - Reflection utilizes critical thinking when thinking back on the effectiveness of interventions and how they were performed. It involves purposeful thinking back or recalling a situation to discover its purpose or meaning. The other options are not examples of reflection but do represent good nursing practice. Using an objective approach and obtaining data in an orderly fashion do not involve purposefully thinking back to discover the meaning or purpose of a situation. Providing evidence-based explanations for nursing interventions does not always involve thinking back to discover the meaning of a situation.
A nursing instructor needs to evaluate students’ abilities to synthesize data and identify relationships between nursing diagnoses. Which learning assignment is best suited for this instructor’s needs?
A. Concept mapping
B. Reflective journaling
C. Lecture and discussion
D. Reading assignment with a written summary
A - Concept mapping challenges the student to synthesize data and identify relationships between nursing diagnoses. The primary purpose of concept mapping is to better synthesize relevant data about a patient, including assessment data, nursing diagnoses, health needs, nursing interventions, and evaluation measures. Reflective journaling involves thinking back to clarify concepts. Reading assignments and lecture do not best provide an instructor the ability to evaluate students’ abilities to synthesize data.
A nurse is using a critical thinking model to provide care. Which component is first that helps a nurse make clinical decisions? A. Attitude B. Experience C. Nursing process D. Specific knowledge base
D - The first component of the critical thinking model is a nurse’s specific knowledge base. After acquiring a sound knowledge base, the nurse can then apply knowledge to different clinical situations using the nursing process to gain valuable experience. Clinical learning experiences are necessary to acquire clinical decision-making skills. The nursing process competency is the third component of the critical thinking model. Eleven attitudes define the central features of a critical thinker and how a successful critical thinker approaches a problem.
Which action by a nurse indicates application of the critical thinking model to make the best clinical decisions?
A. Drawing on past clinical experiences to formulate standardized care plans
B. Relying on recall of information from past lectures and textbooks
C. Depending on the charge nurse to determine priorities of care
D. Using the nursing process
D - The nursing process competency is the third component of the critical thinking model. In your practice, you will apply critical thinking components during each step of the nursing process. Care plans should be individualized, and recalling facts does not utilize critical thinking skills to make clinical decisions. The new nurse should not rely on the charge nurse to determine priorities of care.
A nurse is using the critical thinking skill of evaluation. Which action will the nurse take?
A. Examine the meaning of data.
B. Support findings and conclusions.
C. Review the effectiveness of nursing actions.
D. Search for links between the data and the nurse’s assumptions.
C - Reviewing the effectiveness of interventions best describes evaluation. Examining the meaning of data is inference. Supporting findings and conclusions provides explanations. Searching for links between the data and the nurse’s assumptions describes analysis.
The patient appears to be in no apparent distress, but vital signs taken by assistive personnel reveal an extremely low pulse. The nurse then auscultates an apical pulse and asks the patient whether there is any history of heart problems. The nurse is utilizing which critical thinking skill? A. Evaluation B. Explanation C. Interpretation D. Self-regulation
C - Interpretation involves being orderly in data collection, looking for patterns to categorize data, and clarifying uncertain data. This nurse is clarifying the data in this situation. Evaluation involves determining the effectiveness of interventions or care provided. The nurse in this scenario is assessing the patient, not evaluating interventions. Self-regulation is reflecting on experiences. Explanation is supporting findings and conclusions. The nurse in this question is clarifying uncertain data (determining cause of the low pulse), not supporting the finding of a low pulse.
A patient continues to report post-surgical incision pain at a level of 9 out of 10 after pain medicine is given. The next dose of pain medicine is not due for another hour. What should the critically thinking nurse do first?
A. Explore other options for pain relief.
B. Discuss the surgical procedure and reason for the pain.
C. Explain to the patient that nothing else has been ordered.
D. Offer to notify the health care provider after morning rounds are completed.
A - The critically thinking nurse should explore all options for pain relief first. The nurse should use critical thinking to determine the cause of the pain and determine various options for pain, not just ordered pain medications. The nurse can act independently to determine all options for pain relief and does not have to wait until after the health care provider rounds are completed. Explaining the cause of the pain does not address options for pain relief.
Which action should the nurse take to best develop critical thinking skills?
A. Study 3 hours more each night.
B. Attend all in-service opportunities.
C. Actively participate in clinical experiences.
D. Interview staff nurses about their nursing experiences.
C - Nursing is a practice discipline. Clinical learning experiences are necessary to acquire clinical decision-making skills. Studying for longer hours, interviewing nurses, and attending in-services do not provide opportunities for clinical decision making, as do actual clinical experiences.
While caring for a hospitalized older-adult female post hip surgery, the nurse is faced with the task of inserting an indwelling urinary catheter, which involves rotating the hip into a contraindicated position. Which action should the nurse take?
A. Postpone catheter insertion until the next shift.
B. Adapt the positioning technique to the situation.
C. Notify the health care provider for a urologist consult.
D. Follow textbook procedure with contraindicated position.
B - The nurse must use critical thinking skills in this situation to adapt positioning technique. In practice, patient procedures are not always presented as in a textbook, but they are individualized. A urologist consult is not warranted for positioning problems. Postponing insertion of the catheter is not an appropriate action.
The nurse enters a room to find the patient sitting up in bed crying. How will the nurse display a critical thinking attitude in this situation?
A. Provide privacy and check on the patient 30 minutes later.
B. Set a box of tissues at the patient’s bedside before leaving the room.
C. Limit visitors while the patient is upset.
D. Ask the patient about the crying.
D - A clinical sign or symptom (crying) often indicates a variety of problems. Explore and learn more about the patient so as to make appropriate clinical judgments. This is demonstrating curiosity, which is an attitude of critical thinking. Checking on the patient 30 minutes later, providing tissues, and limiting visitors may be appropriate actions but these actions do not address critical thinking.
A patient is having trouble reaching the water fountain while holding on to crutches. The nurse suggests that the patient place the crutches against the wall while stabilizing him or herself with two hands on the water fountain. Which critical thinking attitude did the nurse use in this situation? A. Humility B. Creativity C. Risk taking D. Confidence
B - The nurse uses creativity in this situation to figure out how the patient can safely get a drink of water. Humility is recognizing when more information is needed to make a decision. Confidence is being well prepared to perform nursing care safely. This question best illustrates the attitude of creativity. Risk taking is demonstrating the courage to speak out or to question orders based on the nurse’s own knowledge base.
A nurse is pulled from the surgical unit to work on the oncology unit. Which action by the nurse displays humility and responsibility?
A. Refusing the assignment
B. Asking for an orientation to the unit
C. Admitting lack of knowledge and going home
D. Assuming that patient care will be the same as on the other units
B - Humility and responsibility are displayed when the nurse realizes lack of knowledge and requests an orientation to the unit. The other answer choices represent inappropriate actions in this situation and are not examples of humility and responsibility. The nurse should explore all options before refusing an assignment. The nurse should not make assumptions. Assuming is not an example of critical thinking. Admitting lack of knowledge is an example of humility, but going home does not illustrate an example of responsibility.
A nurse is using professional standards to influence clinical decisions. What is the rationale for the nurse’s actions?
A. Establishes minimal passing standards for testing
B. Utilizes evidence-based practice based on nurses’ needs
C. By-passes the patient’s feelings to promote ethical standards
D. Uses critical thinking for the highest level of quality nursing care
D - Professional standards promote the highest level of quality nursing care. Application of professional standards requires you to use critical thinking for the good of individuals or groups. Bypassing the patient’s feelings is not practicing according to professional standards. The primary purpose of professional standards is not to establish minimal passing standards for testing. Patient care should be based on patient needs, not on nurses’ needs.
A nurse who is caring for a patient with a pressure ulcer applies the recommended dressing according to hospital policy. Which standard is the nurse following? A. Fairness B. Intellectual standards C. Independent reasoning D. Institutional practice guidelines
D - The standards of professional responsibility that a nurse tries to achieve are the standards cited in Nurse Practice Acts, institutional practice guidelines (hospital/facility policy), and professional organizations’ standards of practice (e.g., The American Nurses Association Standards of Professional Performance). Intellectual standards are guidelines or principles for rational thought. Fairness and independent reasoning are two examples of critical thinking attitudes that are designed to help nurses make clinical decisions.
A nurse is reviewing care plans. Which finding, if identified in a plan of care, should the registered nurse revise?
A. Patient’s outcomes for learning
B. Nurse’s assumptions about hospital discharge
C. Identification of several actual health problems
D. Documentation of patient’s ability to meet the goal
B - The nurse should not assume when a patient is going to be discharged and document this information in a plan of care. Making assumptions is not an example of a critical thinking skill. The purpose of the nursing process is to diagnose and treat human responses (e.g., patient symptoms, need for knowledge) to actual or potential health problems. Use of the process allows nurses to help patients meet agreed-on outcomes for better health. The patient’s outcomes, having several actual health problems, and a description of the patient’s abilities to meet the goal are all appropriate to document in the nursing plan of care.
In which order will the nurse use the nursing process steps during the clinical decision-making process?
- Evaluating goals
- Assessing patient needs
- Planning priorities of care
- Determining nursing diagnoses
- Implementing nursing interventions
A. 2, 4, 3, 5, 1
B. 4, 3, 2, 1, 5
C. 1, 2, 4, 5, 3
D. 5, 1, 2, 3, 4
A - The American Nurses Association developed standards that set forth the framework necessary for critical thinking in the application of the five-step nursing process: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Which findings will alert the nurse that stress is present when making a clinical decision? (Select all that apply.) A. Tense muscles B. Reactive responses C. Trouble concentrating D. Very tired feelings E. Managed emotions
A, B, C, D - Learn to recognize when you are feeling stressed—your muscles will tense, you become reactive when others communicate with you, you have trouble concentrating, and you feel very tired. Emotions are not managed when stressed.