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CT is a broad term that includes CR and refers to “important thinking” that must be done to assess and manage any situation (inside or outside of the clinical setting).
Because thinking is a complex process that involves feelings, past experiences, and individual perceptions, there are numerous definitions of CT and CR.
There’s no one right way to define either of these terms.
Applying the above points, critical thinking is “important thinking (or reasoning) that needs to be done to assess and manage any problem or concern.” For example, you need to know how to assess systematically and comprehensively, how to prioritize, how to prevent and control undesirable situations, and how to evaluate progress.
The terms critical thinking and clinical reasoning are often used interchangeably, but there’s a slight difference between them.
These include: A critical thinker: The above are skills that we would like to see in our nursing staff.
Some nurses are intuitively better critical thinkers than others but there are strategies that nurse leaders can use in their environments to promote these skills.
If you were redesigning care today with a blank slate, what type of delivery system would you develop? To challenge assumptions – What would happen if we fail to take action in view of what is happening with health reform?
Do you think that this type of care needs to be delivered in a hospital setting? To create ownership of solutions – Based on your nursing experience, what do you suggest that we do here?
CR is a specific term that usually refers to assessment and management of patient problems at the point of care (e.g., reasoning at the bedside or during clinic visits).
For reasoning about other clinical issues (e.g., teamwork, collaboration, and streamlining work flow), healthcare professionals usually use the term critical thinking.