Clinical Reasoning: Combining Research and Knowledge to Enhance Client Care

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Making sound and client-centered clinical decisions in an area that demands accountability and evidence-based practice requires not only scientific knowledge, but also a deep knowledge of the practice of one’s profession and of what it means to be human in the world of combined strength and vulnerability that is health care. Every clinician must understand the importance of applying best research evidence to client care, the essence of evidence–based practice, to improve the overall quality of healthcare. Research continues to find that using evidence-based guidelines in practice, informed through research evidence, improves patients’ outcomes (Dykes et al, 2005). The literature is replete with definitions of evidence-based…show more content…
Becoming a critical thinker is a prerequisite of becoming an evidence-based clinician. But what is critical thinking? Critical thinking involves the application of knowledge and experience to identify patient problems and to direct clinical judgments and actions that result in positive patient outcomes. Critical reflection requires that the thinker examine the underlying assumptions and radically question or doubt the validity of arguments, assertions, and even facts of the case. Critical reflective skills are also essential for clinicians; however, these skills are not sufficient for the clinician who must decide how to act in particular situations and avoid patient injury (Wheatley DN, 1999). Critical reasoning is a process whereby knowledge and experience are applied in considering multiple possibilities to achieve the desired goals (Noll et al, 2001) while considering the patient’s situation (Fowler, 1997). According to Simmons it’s a process where both inductive and deductive cognitive skills are used (Simmons et al, 2003). Each client’s problem is unique, a product of many factors, including the client’s physical health, lifestyle, culture, relationship with family and friends, living environment, and experiences. Thus, a health care professional does not always have a clear picture of the client’s needs when first meeting a client. Because no two clients have identical problems, a clinician is always

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