Robert Ennis Critical Thinking

To create clarity – Can you explain more about this situation? If our organization does not take action to decrease our financial costs, what will happen when reimbursements decline? To inspire reflection – Why do you think you were successful in that situation?What is different about today’s healthcare environment that when you initially began your career? To encourage breakthrough thinking – Is there another way that we could do this?

It is a skill that grows when novices receive good coaching.

This has become very challenging recently as there are fewer and fewer experienced preceptors.

Different criteria and tests used to determine whether or not critical thinking is taking place have been put forth by different educators.

Robert Ennis’s popular definition from 1989 also states that, “critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do,” adding an emphasis on the resulting action.

In nursing, critical thinking for clinical decision-making is the ability to think in a systematic and logical manner with openness to question and reflect on the reasoning process used to ensure safe nursing practice and quality care (Heaslip).

A key concept in critical thinking is the art of reflection. Robert Ennis at Illinois State University has identified key behaviors of critical thinkers.

Reflection on one’s work is rare although experts advise that it is necessary for professional growth.

So the challenge for nurse leaders is how to promote critical thinking so it becomes integrated into everyday nursing practice. A simple definition of critical thinking is that it is reasonable, reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.

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Sherman, Ed D, RN, FAAN An experienced nurse was bemoaning the lack of critical thinking skills demonstrated by novice nurses. The ability to be an astute critical thinker does not happen over night.


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