There are five words that I’ve grown really tired of hearing. Wanna guess what they are?
"You just can't teach it"
Or even better:
"It takes time and experience."
And I really wonder... is that true? or is that just fiction because that is what has been passed down to us?
Those beliefs are the general chorus when it comes to the process of learning critical thinking. And while time and experience is an important ingredient in mastering the skill, it really isn’t what defines it, or what it comprises of. And it is definitely not a guaranteed way to obtain it.
Critical thinking is this really abstract and enigmatic term for something super important we all do as nurses. I’ve written tons on the topic and even I can’t define it. There’s even all these researchers and academics and all of them have a different definition of what it is.
When I tell people I am writing about critical thinking, the response is usually like, “That’s crazy!” but I am determined to make it easier to learn. I think part of why it is difficult to learn is because of the dialogue that experienced nurses use. If we resign ourselves to believe its this impossible thing to teach, then what ends up happening is we automatically have no guidance to give. We’re essentially saying, “Figure it out.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think its malicious. I mean, if we can't simply define it, how do we expect to talk about it and teach it in a way thats not totally confusing?
Call me crazy but I just think we can do better. As experienced nurses, we are awesome enough to have survived that gray period of not-yet-having-learned-to-think-like-a-nurse, so we can be awesome enough to break the cycle. Right?