The Importance of Nurses’ Critical Thinking in Healthcare

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Given their limited time to catch new nurses and other providers up to the level of those on the verge of retirement, healthcare organizations must redouble their efforts to make sure staff is equipped to provide quality patient care. In the article from which this post is taken, we speak with HealthStream’s Associate VP for Clinical Staff Development, Christie Kerwan, about how to develop new nurses’ critical thinking.

Imminent Nursing Shortages

The forecast for the nursing shortage remains grim— hospitals are not only anticipating the shortage, they are already feeling effects from it. The industry is replacing their retiring nurses with inexperienced new nurses, and retention rates are low, with 48% of new nurses leaving within the second year. Ten to fifteen percent of hospitals’ nursing staff are new nurse graduates, and hospitals remain challenged to provide the necessary support for these new nurses. Hospitals must race to close the academic-to-practice gap, so that they can retain safe, competent, and confident nurses who are prepared to continue their professional growth. This means getting them up-to-speed more quickly than was necessary in the past.

Reliance on Integrated Technology

The integration of technology into healthcare can be problematic if those providing patient care begin to replace the ability to think with that technology. Kerwan explains, “Not only do nurses have a patient who could physically be having a problem, but now there is technology that could also be having a problem—and that problem could potentially put the patient in even more danger.”

Kerwan explains that in any area highly integrated with technology, there will also be a need for providers to have a high level ability to think critically. “Whenever technology is introduced and people start thinking that the machine is doing everything for them, that’s when it is extremely important for care providers to have the ability to think critically,” says Kerwan. “The problem is when they become too comfortable with technology and assume it will tell them when a patient is not doing well; then they start treating the monitor and not the patient. Providers have to be able to step into any situation, assess, plan, and treat in accordance with what they see in both the patient and the devices.”


Download the full article here.