Establishing a consistent routine of writing at least weekly in a journal can improve critical thinking (Profetta-Mc Grath, 2005).
Writing about critical incidents, complex situations that require decision making, as well as emotions and feelings about interactions and events stimulate analysis, synthesis, judgment, and creativity that are components of critical thinking.
Without these skills, a manager may fall back on reactive, automatic responses to problems – and miss the opportunity to make changes that are visionary and goal-driven.
In 2010, a group of nurse researchers designed a study that would allow them to measure the effects of a manager’s critical thinking skills on the attitude of the floor nurses that person was managing.
The concept of clinical decision-making focuses attention on the clinical nature of a problem, but falls short of facilitating understanding of the broader spectrum of the issue.
Creative thinking, a combination of imagination and knowledge, can also be helpful in understanding solutions that have failed and coming up with new ideas.
In the past, staff nurses with seniority were given first choice of days off, leaving more junior nurses dissatisfied.
The reactive way of thinking would be continue on with this same policy – without challenging current assumptions about seniority, fairness, and staff satisfaction.
Through critical thinking skills, a nurse manager can become a transformational leader.
She or he can challenge assumptions, develop a more robust understanding of a problem’s underlying causes, and generate more creative solutions when using critical thinking.