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Medical Professions Prioritize Critical Thinking Skills

Importance of critical thinking in health care delivery

Critical thinking is a core competency in health science programs throughout the world. They use critical thinking assessments to admit students, identify those at risk for clinical errors, predict failure to achieve licensure and to document progress on learning outcomes.

Insight Assessment health sciences test instruments are proven tools used globally to document the quality of clinicians' decision making skillsComprehensive individual and group reports support program evaluation, benchmarking, and curricular change.

Here’s a sampling of medical associations who prioritize critical thinking as a prerequisite skill for clinical reasoning:

  • The Accreditation Council for Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) includes a standard guideline for accreditation Schools of Pharmacy Education to develop strength in their students' critical thinking through effective teaching and learning strategies, and to demonstrate this achievement through outcomes assessment (12.1, 12.2, 13.1)
  • The 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students that have been endorsed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Student Affairs (GSA) Committee on Admissions (COA) include Critical Thinking (Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems) and Quantitative Reasoning (Applies quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.)
  • The American Occupational Therapy Association's Blueprint for Entry-Level Education described critical thinking as needed by occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. AAOTA saw these skills and habits of mind were essential for professional development, evidence based practice and business fundamentals.
  • The Commission on Dental Accreditation:  Accreditation Standards for Dental Education Programs, adopted August, 2010 stated:  “Graduates must be competent in the use of critical thinking and problem-solving, including their use in the comprehensive care of patients, scientific inquiry and research methodology.” 
  • The American Association of Colleges of Nurses’ definition of critical thinking as published in their Essentials of Baccalaureate Nursing states: Critical thinking underlies independent and interdependent decision making. Critical thinking includes questioning, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, inference, inductive and deductive reasoning, intuition, application, and creativity.
  • The Core Competencies for Entry-level Practice in Acute Care Physical Therapy” recognized that clinical decision making is an integral component of all the competency sections.   Competency 1, Entry-Level Clinical Decision-Making in Acute Care, states: “Clinical reasoning is the deliberation about a course of action within a specific context and with an ability to anticipate outcomes guided by a framework of previous experiences and knowledge of best evidence. In acute care, clinical reasoning serves as the foundation for competency in all areas – including communication, safety, discharge planning and patient management.“
  • Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership Competencies include critical thinking as “the ability to identify an issue, dilemma, or problem; frame it as a specific question; explore and evaluate information relevant to the question; and integrate the information into development of a resolution. An advanced manifestation of critical thinking is evidence-based practice – the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence about practice, the creation of policy, and the conduct of research”.
  • The American Association of Medical Assistants recognizes the importance of critical thinking in the skills needed by Certified Medical Assistants. Donald A. Balasa, Executive Director of the AAMA, described critical thinking skills as a linchpin in the practice of the patient-centered care provided by the CMA, used to identify and appropriately refer issues worthy of special attention to the physician and other care team members.
  • The Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards of the Council on Social Work Education, lays out 10 core social work competencies.   One specifically points to critical thinking: ""Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments."  This career emphasis is an international value:  the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards stipulates that all AASW accredited Social Work Degrees incorporate curriculum content that develops critical thinking skills.

Clinical Health Science programs across the world use INSIGHT Health , Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT) , HSRT-Associate Degree (HSRT-AD) and other Insight Assessment test instruments to identify the strengths and weaknesses in applicant critical thinking, to predict licensure and to build successful teams. Two year, four year and graduate level Health Sciences comparison percentiles include Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Hygiene, Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy, Medicine and Physician Assistant.  Insight Assessment offers flexible test administration options , quality translations and multilingual online test taker interface options .

INSIGHT Development Program offers a cost-effective series of online thinking skills and mindset enrichment modules with accompanying exercises, access to an assessment metric and performance reporting tools.  Designed to be used as independent study by employees, it can also be incorporated into existing training programs.

Contact us to see why Insight Assessment is the leading provider of high stakes, research based critical thinking solutions, calibrated for health science students and professionals.

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