Critical thinking is an essential skill for every health professional. Florence Nightingale (1860/1992) firmly established that observations and their interpretation were the hallmarks of trained nursing practice. In recent years, critical thinking in nursing has become correspondent with the widely adopted nursing process model of practice. Critical thinking is viewed as a problem-solving activity, beginning with assessment and nursing diagnosis, proceeding with planning and executing nursing interventions directed toward the resolution of the diagnosed problems, and culminating in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the interventions. In nursing, critical thinking is a skill that takes time to be acquainted with and has a tremendous impact on our patients as a group.
Critical thinking requires various types of knowledge: that which is hypothetical, generalizable, and applicable in many situations and is derived from science and theory. It grows with experience where scientific abstractions are filled out in practice, is often tacit, and aids instant recognition of clinical states; and that which is highly localized and individualized, drawn from knowing the individual patient and shared human understanding. As stated by (Peden- McAlpine & Clark, 2010). "Clinical judgments are more influenced by what the nurse brings to the situation than the objective data about the situation at hand". This could not be any more true, there are tome when one has to look past the data and go with one's best judgment based on the patient as a whole. .
Central to nurses' critical thinking is what they describe in their daily discourse as "knowing the patient." In several studies (Peden-McAlpine & Clark, 2010; Tanner, Benner, Chesla, & Gordon, 2009), investigators have described nurses' taken-for-granted understanding of their patients, which derives from working with them, hearing accounts of their experiences with illness, watching them, and coming to understand how they typically respond.