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Critical inquiry is an important quality for safe practice.Nurses must pose questions about practice and be willing to attempt to seek answers about practice.It is how we view the client and the type of problems we deal with in practice when we engage in client care.
To figure things out we need to enter into the thinking of the other person and then to comprehend as best we can the structure of their thinking. When I read an author I'm trying to figure out what the author is saying; what problem or issue the author is addressing, what point of view or frame of reference he is coming from, what the goal or purpose is of this piece of writing, what evidence, data or facts are being used and what theories, concepts, principles or ideas are involved.
I want to understand the interpretations and claims the author is making and the assumptions that underlie his thinking.
To do this I must clearly comprehend the thinking of another person by figuring out the logic of their thinking.
I must comprehend clearly the thinking of myself by figuring out my own thoughts on the subject at hand.
Critical thinkers strive to be clear, accurate, precise, logical complete, significant and fair when they listen, speak, read and write. Their thinking is adequate for their intended purpose (Paul, Scriven, Norris & Ennis).
All thinking can be examined in light of these standards and as we reflect on the quality of our thinking we begin to recognize when we are being unclear, imprecise, vague or inaccurate.
When nurses reason they use these elements of thought to figure out difficult questions and recognize that their thinking could be flawed or limited by lack of in-depth understanding of the problem at issue therefore, they critically monitor their thinking to ensure that their thinking meets the standards for intellectual thought.
In summary, as a critical thinker, I am able to figure out by reading or listening critically what nurse scholars believe about nursing and on what basis nurses act as they practice nursing.
Critical thinking is the disciplined, intellectual process of applying skilful reasoning as a guide to belief or action (Paul, Ennis & Norris).
In nursing, critical thinking for clinical decision-making is the ability to think in a systematic and logical manner with openness to question and reflect on the reasoning process used to ensure safe nursing practice and quality care (Heaslip).