Critical Thinking Skills


Critical Thinking Skills

All health care providers must be able to make logical decisions and wise choices; it goes without saying. The care of the patient demands that good judgment is exercised in the selection of technical factors for quality imaging and in other patient care tasks. You will be responsible for giving the physician a radiograph that is diagnostically sound and for providing safe care to the patient while performing the examination.

Need for critical thinking

As a professional, you will be making vital decisions regarding your own career. You will need to make choices regarding the route you follow in the profession to meet your own personal needs and goals.

What Is Critical Thinking?

Many definitions have been given for critical thinking. One definition calls it emancipatory learning. Emancipation means freedom from restraint or influence. Things that restrain or influence people can be personal, institutional, or environmental. Personal beliefs, rules and regulations of institutions, and physical environments can all work to prevent people from seeing new directions and gaining understanding and control of their own lives and of the world around them. Emancipatory learning means that learners become aware of the forces that have created the circumstances of their lives and take action to change them.

Another definition for critical thinking focuses on the use of morality and virtues, making wise judgments about aspects of our lives, and recognizing the impact these judgments will have on others. Some stress the importance of recognizing reality in the context of cultural elements and the process of trying to create order in a changing world.

Creating order in a changing world will be a challenge for us all. Never in our history have changes occurred with such rapidity. Global information and communication exchange, worldwide exchange of goods and services, and, most importantly, an exchange of ideas affect our world. Geographic boundaries are becoming blurred, as are the cultures and traditions of separate groups. Learning how to live and work in this changing world makes critical thinking more important than ever.

Although the wording of the definitions of critical thinking may differ, they are all made on the assumption that a set of values exists. Each definition assumes that these values are universal; for example, life is better than death, wellness is better than illness, happiness is better than sadness, pleasure is better than pain, and hope is better than despair. Therefore, when we speak of making wise judgments, we have to agree on a set of values. These values are not unique to a specific culture or religion nor are they characteristic of a specific nation or state. They are universal except in rare aberrations of individuals, cult groups, and other deviants.

The assumption that you have accepted these values is a fair conclusion because you have chosen to be a health care provider. We may disagree on the specifics of behaviors that will best accomplish the preservation of these values, but if we disagree on the values, then further discussion is no longer needed. When we speak of making wise decisions, we are judging decisions made within the framework of a value system that is universally understood. It is equated with logical reasoning abilities and reflective judgment.

Qualities of a Critical Thinker

Critical thinkers are valued for their ability to look at a situation from a variety of perspectives. They are able to discern the best possible way to react to a situation, making them ideally suited for work in the health care profession. Box 3-1 summarizes the characteristics that a critical thinker needs to possess.

One of the first traits that one observes in critical thinkers is the presence of heart as well as mind. The definitions regarding critical thinking are reflective of human values and can thus be expected of critical thinkers. Such a thinker will be able to balance compassion with realism.

The critical thinker must also be analytical, which means finding evidence in unclear and confusing situations. Being alert to the consequences of accepting a course of action and being able to defend that position are both important. Rushing into a plan without examining the ramifications of hastened actions can be dangerous.

Rational thinkers recognize reality; they can discern what is factual and true from what is opinion or misinformation. Seeking truth and making every effort to be honest with yourself is an important characteristic. To accomplish this, we must recognize the difference between what is true and what we wish were true. Making this distinction is more difficult than it may appear on the surface. Recognizing the laws of physics or mathematics as factual is simple enough; however, when the discussions involve government, religion, evolution, or other similar topics, facts become blurred and clouded with emotion. The truth is often elusive, and the evidence is less convincing. Nonetheless, critical thinkers will seek to make rational judgments and act responsibly.

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Mar 2, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL RADIOLOGY | Comments Off on Critical Thinking Skills

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