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Six exercises for nurses to foster critical thinking

As a nurse, no matter what organization you work within, the ability to resolve issues before they turn into problems is crucial to ensure success in your role.  

To prepare for your next nursing position, we detail some fundamental critical thinking exercises that can help develop those all-important problem-solving skills.

What is critical thinking?

During your nursing studies, you will have undoubtedly come across the term ‘critical thinking’. It is the process of applying intentional higher-level thinking to describe a patient’s problem and examining the evidence-based practice in caring for them to make the right choices on the type of care that they require.

Fostering the right attributes and attitude that encourages critical thinking will help you excel in your nursing role and develop your career long into the future. These include:

The confidence to challenge convention

By nature, the nursing profession is driven by process and best practice, but sometimes the opportunity arises for individuals to enrich and change the way that things are done. This does not mean you have to upset the system, but simply that you should be confident enough to speak up and be afforded the opportunity to improve upon existing workplace practices.

Working independently

When you embark upon your career in nursing, you are likely to work under close supervision; however, certain situations may arise where there is an opportunity for you to work independently. If you have a particular skill-set or interest in a niche area, why not ask to take ownership? Not only will this demonstrate initiative and your willingness to develop in your profession, but it also improves your critical thinking skills too.

Practical experience

Practical, hands-on experience is crucial to excelling in any nursing role. Developing critical-thinking skills starts at the beginning of your career, not just in your first position but also the experience you obtain while studying. Anyone will tell you that gaining essential and varied work experience will help you secure the role that you deserve.

Working alongside leaders

There is a lot to be said about great leadership. Learning from senior nurses, not only on the job but also enquiring about their past experiences, mistakes, and learnings will help you to develop your critical thinking skills in any role.

Situational analysis

Continued professional development is a vital part of career success. It is not uncommon to be tested on what you have learned in your job. Commonly senior staff nurses may create hypothetical situations to test your critical thinking and development since starting your position. If this is not a common practice in your place of work, it is always worth asking for more training to ensure your nursing aptitude and critical thinking skills continue to evolve.

Existing case studies

Any nurse should brush up on their skills by reading case studies. These can be found in academic books or learning from a vast breadth of academic papers from established educational institutions, which are often accessible online. Conexus Medstaff offers access for all of our international nurses to the US Ready training program, which includes free access to a database of nursing and healthcare journals and articles. This directory includes literature reviews, professional expert opinions and first-hand clinical trials on a broad range of nursing and healthcare topics.


Our experienced team helps to place the very best international nurses and US-based overseas graduates that have the desire to work in the US. We partner with leading healthcare organizations across 25 states who are committed to ethical, best practice long-term care nursing through practical training and development. At Conexus Medstaff, we’re passionate about building healthcare careers in the US. We’re keen to help graduates (and experienced nurses) from overseas embark on a career in nursing in America. To help you recognize what to expect from a career in long-term care nursing, download our free Conexus MedStaff Guide to Long-Term Care Nursing Careers today.

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