Critical Thinking in the Intensive Care Unit

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Critical Thinking in the Intensive Care Unit

Product Code: CTICU

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Critical Thinking in the Intensive Care Unit: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act

Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN

Critical thinking is essential to a nurse’s success.

Don’t waste time and money developing your own critical thinking training program. Our top-notch experts have done the work for you!

The complex, high-stress intensive care unit (ICU) is a difficult environment for new graduate and inexperienced nurses to enter and excel. However, it is imperative that nurses in this arena display critical thinking and possess high-levels of clinical judgment as they deal with the most vulnerable patients. Critical Thinking in the Intensive Care Unit: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act is an easy-to-read resource that explains the principles of critical thinking and how to encourage nurses to use critical thinking methods. It includes a CD-ROM packed with all the book’s useful tools that you can immediately implement at your facility.

Maximize fast, accurate judgment. Minimize stress.

This essential book covers how to lead classroom sessions for new graduate nurses and experienced nurses on developing critical thinking skills in the ICU, including successful classroom processes and learning strategies. It includes tools, worksheets, and handouts to supplement the classroom learning.

Examples of critical thinking skills that can be taught include:

  • Developing prioritization skills
  • Knowing when to call the physician
  • Producing effective documentation
  • Anticipating worst-case scenarios
  • Responding to abnormal findings
  • Handling unexpected patient outcomes

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 completely customizable resources such as intensive care unit-specific assessment tools, case studies, worksheets, and sample questions.

Take a look at the table of contents:

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

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the characteristics of the intensive care unit that require good critical-thinking skills
  • Identify key aspects of critical thinking
  • Explain how nurses develop competency in critical thinking
  • Analyze the factors that contribute to new graduates' lack of critical thinking
  • Identify strategies to facilitate critical thinking in new graduates
  • Determine classroom strategies to teach, promote, and support the development of critical thinking
  • Determine ways to evaluate nurses’ progress in critical thinking throughout orientation
  • Develop strategies for the development of critical thinking skills during the orientation process
  • Discuss the role played by managers and educators in promoting environments that support critical thinking
  • Analyze the challenges that both new and experienced nurses face in the incorporation of critical thinking skills in the practice setting
  • Explain interventions to help both new and experienced nurses meet their managers and preceptors expectations for critical thinking
  • Apply critical thinking to nursing documentation


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 co-authored the book A Practical Guide to Recruitment and Retention: Skills for Nurse Managers also published by HCPro.

About the contributing authors:

Eric Wolak, BSN, RN, CCRN, has a background in critical care and nursing education. He is an assistant nurse manager for a cardiothoracic surgery intensive care unit and has previously been a clinical nurse education specialist for a regional burn/trauma center. He has spent the majority of his career focusing on staff development, staff education, and the development of protocols from evidence-based practice.

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

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: March 2007