Sarah Aronson, Nursing Executive Center
After nurse executives decide they want to use the Nursing Executive Center’s Critical Thinking Diagnostic, I often get this question:
Which of my nurses should I assess first?
My answer is always to "start with the end in mind." Rather than begin the potentially overwhelming task of assessing all nurses within an institution at once, I recommend nurse leaders prioritize a single, specific cohort of nurses. For example, many nurse leaders focus on elevating the critical thinking skills of their new graduate nurses. Other leaders elect to elevate the critical thinking skills of specific service lines—or even an individual nursing unit.
Case study: Boosting the skills of newly hired nurses
Recently, I worked with a large health system located in the South. Their primary goal was to assess—and elevate—the critical thinking skills of all nurses newly hired into the system. The objective was to gauge critical thinking early in a nurse’s tenure to ensure newly hired nurses receive support upfront and to minimize the possibility of sub-optimal outcomes resulting from poor critical thinking skills.
Based on this goal, nurse leaders at this health system decided to focus on deploying the Critical Thinking Diagnostic within the first 90 days of a nurses’ employment. Across that period, all new nurses are required to complete a self-assessment of their critical thinking skills—and have their critical thinking skills assessed by their preceptor.
Following the assessment, their preceptor delivers a customized development plan listing the nurse’s strengths and development objectives. He or she will then recommend no more than three select exercises from the Critical Thinking Toolkit to help improve the development opportunities surfaced. The newly hired nurse will also be expected to complete the recommended exercises within the first 90 days of employment.
Though this is just one example of many, this targeted approach represents an actionable starting point for long term assessment. To learn more about assessing and elevating frontline critical thinking, members of the Nursing Executive Center can log in and access a toolkit with exercises to enhance frontline critical thinking, watch a video on how to deploy the Critical Thinking Diagnostic, or download best practices to overcome task-focused tunnel vision.
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