Critical Thinking in the Medical-Surgical Unit

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Critical Thinking in the Medical-Surgical Unit: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act

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Critical Thinking in the Medical-Surgical Unit: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act

Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN


Build confidence and competence through critical thinking

A rapidly-growing number of nurse leaders are concerned that the new graduates who flock to medical-surgical units to gain experience lack the critical thinking skills necessary to practice in a complex medical-surgical environment.

Raise the standard of professional nursing practice and teach clinical care providers how to function at a higher level with the HCPro book, Critical Thinking in the Medical-Surgical Unit: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act. This easy-to-read resource explains the principles of critical thinking and how to encourage nurses to use critical thinking methods. It covers how to lead classroom sessions for new graduate nurses and experienced nurses to develop critical thinking skills, including successful classroom processes and learning strategies. It includes teaching tips, workbooks, and handouts to supplement the classroom learning.

Critical Thinking in the Medical-Surgical Unit provides strategies for managers and nurse educators to develop critical thinking skills during orientation and beyond, and includes tools and resources for ongoing development.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Critical thinking in the medical-surgical unit
1. Defining critical thinking
2. New graduate nurses and critical thinking
3. The critical thinking classroom
4. Orientation: Bringing critical thinking to the clinical environment
5. Nursing practice that promotes and motivates critical thinking
6. Novice to expert: Setting realistic expectations for critical thinking
7. Applying critical thinking to nursing documentation
8. Relating critical thinking to its higher purpose
9. Resources and tools

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the characteristics of the medical-surgical unit that require good critical-thinking skills
  • Identify the key aspects of critical thinking and how nurses develop competency
  • Analyze the factors that contribute to new graduates’ lack of critical thinking and strategies to counteract this
  • Utilize the classroom environment to teach, promote, and support the development of critical thinking
  • Identify ways to incorporate critical thinking development into orientation programs and ways to evaluate nurses’ progress
  • Discuss the role played by managers and educators in promoting environments that support critical thinking
  • Evaluate the challenges facing new and experienced nurses in incorporating critical thinking skills into practice and strategies to help meet expectations
  • Apply critical thinking to nursing documentation

Benefits for both novice and seasoned professional nurses

Learn how to develop a culture of critical thinking, from coaching new grads through bad patient outcomes to encouraging experienced nurses by setting expectations. You also get customizable resources such as medical-surgical unit-specific assessment tools, worksheets, and sample questions.

About the author:

Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, is the founder and president of Health Resources Unlimited, a Tennessee-based healthcare education and consulting company. Through her seminars for nursing professionals, Cohen coaches and educates healthcare workers and leaders across the country to provide the very best in patient care. She is an editorial advisor for Strategies for Nurse Managers, published by HCPro, Inc., and is a frequent contributor to Nursing Management magazine. She also co-authored the book A Practical Guide to Recruitment and Retention: Skills for Nurse Managers.

About the contributing authors:

Polly Gerber Zimmermann, RN, MS, MBA, CEN, has been in active in emergency and medical-surgical nursing clinical practice for more than 29 years and involved in nurse educating for more than 10 years. She is a tenured assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at the Harry S. Truman College (Chicago).

Kelly A. Goudreau, DSN, RN, CNS-BC, is the director of education at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, OR. She is a board certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in adult health and is also the current president of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists for 2006. She received her doctorate of nursing science with a focus on nursing education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Faculty Disclosure Statement
HCPro Inc. has confirmed that none of the faculty/presenters, planners, contributors, or their partners/spouses have any relevant financial relationships to disclose related to the content of this educational activity.

Continuing Education:

If you would like to find out about the availability of nursing contact hours on this or any other HCPro nursing book, please visit our Continuing Education information page, here.

Published: February 2007