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Health Professional Collage

When we think about critical thinking and clinical decision making, most of us immediately focus on the skills.  Health care professionals must have strong reasoning skills; but they need more.  To be effective patient after patient on a day-to-day basis, health care providers need to have the consistent internal motivation to apply those skills. Otherwise there are going to be mistakes that can lead to dire outcomes. 

Strong thinking mindset impacts a patient’s health care outcomes

In the challenging/busy care delivery environment, we don’t spend time celebrating the preponderance of strong decision-making that occurs daily in our health care institutions. Most health professionals have positive if not strongly positive thinking attributes in general.  For example:

  • They are systematic.  Health care professionals take an organized and focused approach to patient care, to making an accurate diagnosis, and to developing what they anticipate will be an effective treatment plan.
  •  It’s rare to see a health care practitioner who is not open-minded about the lifestyles of their clients. 
  •  Health care professionals often show strength in truth-seeking which leads them to endeavor to make accurate diagnoses. This means they strive to follow the clinical evidence available to them where ever it may lead. 
  • They trust in the power of reason to lead to good decisions, rather than abandoning reason in favor of emotionality, social status, or blind allegiance to authority. 
  • One key habit of mind is to tirelessly strive to get the problem right before starting to treat it. 
  • Health care providers who have strong critical thinking engage with honesty and integrity in the process of reviewing their clinical decisions with colleagues. This is the time when they sit down together and go over the patient’s case to evaluate what went right and what might have gone wrong, and how they can do better next time.

Strengths or weaknesses in critical thinking skills and mindset impact patient morbidity and mortality.

Even one weak thinker can do a lot of damage and strain a team. In health care, where time is of the essence, there are always plenty of problems. The diagnostic challenge is to figure out what problem needs to be managed today for the client to be optimally healthy. This is true for clinicians in all fields.  And it is challenging when, as is often the case, a client has more than one problem that needs attention.

Lots of things can go wrong.

  • A clinician might address only an easily managed problem. Or a clinician might stick with a plan of care when the evidence shows that it is not working.  
  • Then there is the inability to analyze difficult clinical problems, or to identify and implement an effective treatment plan. These kinds of mistakes signal weak thinking skill.

Building the motivation to use critical thinking skills

Health science institutions understand that strong decision-making in patient care doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Building critical thinking and clinical reasoning is embedded in the preparation of health science students.  Hiring and training programs in the health care field prioritize strong thinking skills and mindset from initial hiring through ongoing professional development improvement programs.

Assessing skills and mindset provides clinical educators with the objective and detailed information they need to address strengths and weaknesses.   The goal is to build strong critical thinking in their clinicians and in their decision teams

Tools for Quality Improvement

Insight Assessment is a pioneer in the assessment of the critical thinking mindset. We offer the leading instruments for the assessment of critical thinking in the health care field.  Educational programs rely on our assessment results for admissions, to predict licensure, provide appropriate comparison group norms and to support program and curriculum validation.   Our instruments have been integrated into long term studies of the improvement of strong skills and attributes in students and professionals in many health specializations .

Assessment

Insight Assessment health science test instruments are used throughout the world to assess the critical thinking mindset and skills of practitioners and students:

Development

Health care organizations interested in tools to assess and to enhance critical thinking in current employees and applicants will want to consider the Insight Development Program . This online program integrates effective self-instructional professional development training modules with a valid individualized assessment of thinking mindset attributes and reasoning skills.

Contact us today to discuss how Insight Assessment tools are helping health science institutions build stronger critical thinking skills and mindset attributes needed to maximize patient outcomes.

Demonstrate the Power of Employee Assessment

Introducing an emphasis on critical thinking is valuable to every workplace because stronger critical thinking at every level of the organization improves risk management, communication, collaborative action, fiscal management, innovation and the achievement of company goals.

Many large organizations wish to implement a pilot program prior to rolling out a new training program for large numbers of employees.  There are two primary strategies for piloting the integration of employee thinking skills improvement into professional development programs. Some organizations prefer to create their own training materials and do in-house training; others prefer to integrate a specialized training program into their human resource programs.

Set Goals and Benchmarks

New training programs should include gathering data about the value and degree of thinking in your workplace.

Integrating assessment into the launch of a new employee development program is an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of employee assessment while evaluating the effectiveness of the program. Assessing before the training begins establishes a benchmark for current thinking skills: Assessing post training objectively documents the impact of the training.

By adding assessment to your training program to help groups of employees improve their skills to support effective job performance, you will be adding real time personal feedback about how well they are learning.

Be Relevant

Focus your professional development training on relevant employee tasks that involve problem identification and the related decision about whether to manage the problem or to report it to the appropriate supervisor. These are the type of situations that must be analyzed accurately and decisions that must be made well by all employees in the group.

  • Option One: If you wish to create your own training content, here’s a sample training module outline employing case discussion, employee assessment, and debrief.
  • Option Two: If you would prefer to integrate a comprehensive employee thinking package into your human resources processes, INSIGHT Development Program integrates proven instructional modules that guide individuals toward the continued improvement of their reasoning using workplace examples, together with a valid assessment of thinking mindset attributes and reasoning skills.  Scenarios, examples and reflective mental exercises in these modules center on the workplace, but these skills and attributes apply to problems and decisions in all aspects of life. Designed to be used as independent study by employees, it can also be incorporated into existing training programs.

Reinforce the plan

Conclude training by asking each employee to look at their personal assessment individual report to see where they might work to improve their critical thinking skills and mindset.  Providing personal assessment diagnostics can encourage better understanding of their specific strengths and weaknesses in these core skills.   

Use pre and post training metrics to evaluate the impact of your pilot program. Metrics on the group reports as well as individual reports can also help determine whether there are any individuals in the group that require more intensive training to be reliable decision makers.

A well designed program launch provides important information to validate the training for additional groups:

  • Objective data should document improvement in the thinking skills and mindset of participants, verifying the effectiveness of the training.
  • HR will have verified that the assessments can be administered smoothly.
  • Questions about support will have been answered.
  • The company will benefit from the improved skills that these initial participants will now apply to their work and problem-solving.

Insight Assessment has a proven track record for targeted assessment, effective skill building, and retention of knowledge over time.  Insight Assessment provides a high quality validated thinking development program, exceptional targeted test instruments, the most effective resources to improve thinking, the most accessible interfaces and the most relevant and actionable metrics so that our customers can achieve their development and assessment goals.

If you are considering a new initiative to improve employee thinking, call us at 650-697-5628.  Insight Assessment staff are prepared to assist in the planning of development and assessment programs. We are happy to provide a variety of support materials; we also invite clients to preview our products.

K-8 Critical Thinking Habits of Mind: curious, creative, engaged organized, fair-minded and focused

This Guest Blog Post by  Peter A. Facione, Ph.D., Measured Reasons LLC, is presented as part of Insight Assessment's commitment to advancing critical thinking worldwide.

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“But, is it really ethical to be teaching young people to think for themselves?”

We all were taken aback when someone at the community forum asked that question. Then the responses started rolling out from everyone else in the room. “Yes!” “By all means!”  “Of course, it is!” 

The springboard for the question was the Washington Post Opinion by Kareem Abdul Jabbar talking about critical thinking in K-12 schools.  His point was that our democracy will flounder if the national discourse is muddled by intentional misinformation, misdirection, and misrepresentation. He worried that too many of us get our “news” from social media and entertainment networks, instead of from sources that emphasize well-informed, responsible, even-handed, and fair-minded journalism.

Without the ability to have sensible, respectful, informed, and productive national conversations we should expect that our pluralistic democracy will fail. And the only way to cultivate that ability is to teach critical thinking from childhood and at every opportunity thereafter. For children especially, fostering the habits of mind may be even more important than drilling the skills.  

Learning happens best in a classroom culture that emphasizes being curious, focused, creative, fair-minded, organized, and engaged. 

Think about it.  Imagine the opposite.  Imagine a teacher that does not model those habits of mind and that does not cultivate them in the classroom. What can we the learners achieve in the negativity of that environment?

Misinterpretations and unrealistic expectations are unhelpful.

Teaching for critical thinking does not require that we should all agree.  There must always be room for reasonable people to disagree about policies and approaches.  But when we have well-established facts, we should use them as a basis for a shared understanding of the nature of our problems and the potential for our solutions. 

There will always be emotionally traumatizing catastrophes that challenge our ability to step back and take a reasoned, focused, and organized approach.  But that only means that we need to work harder to prepare ourselves for those kinds of difficulties. The mental discipline to keep our wits about ourselves can only improve our chances of successfully responding, particularly in moments of crisis.

There will always people who take an over-simplified, us-vs-them, circle-the-wagons, tribal approach. There will always be people, unaware of shades of gray, who cannot get past their naïve black-or-white interpretations and evaluations. There will always be people who seek personal advantage by politicize everything.

But, that does not mean that professional educators are off the hook.  The opposite:

The ethical duty of the professional educator is to foster cognitive growth, to help learners achieve a measure of wisdom in how they respond to problems, in how they interpret situations, and how they balanced their own interests and the interest of the common good. 

Perhaps the question in the community forum should have been:

 “How would it ever be ethical not to teach for critical thinking?”

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Professional educators, including industry trainers, who may be interested in tools to enhance their own critical thinking skills and habits of mind may wish to suggest that their employers consider utilizing Insight Development Program . This online program integrates proven instructional modules with a valid assessment of thinking mindset attributes and reasoning skills. Insight Assessment also offers a comprehensive array of test instruments for education, business, health science, K-12 and law uses.

Good thinking is in demand. Download Critical Thinking Insight from your app store today:

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