Ask the expert: Assess nurses’ critical thinking skills during orientation

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 7, 2009

This week, Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, discusses how to help new hires recognize their critical thinking skills.

Q: How can we measure the critical thinking skills of new graduate nurses and other new hires?

A: Orientation is an ideal time to introduce your expectations regarding critical thinking abilities. Regardless of the years of experience of your new hires, conducting a self assessment is a valuable tool to measure their perception of their ability to perform critical thinking.

New hires should be asked to complete the same self-assessment tool when they conclude the orientation period or after about three months. Having new employees conduct a self-assessment at the beginning of orientation and again after they have been at your facility a few months helps by:

  • Clarifying and defining their critical thinking abilities and identifying areas that require more attention during orientation
  • Providing a documentation process that validates areas of strength and weakness
  • Becoming a resource tool from which you and the nurse may develop goals
  • Providing a record of the dates that orientees demonstrated their proficiencies

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