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November 3, 2020

Practice Expectation Spotlight

Practice Expectation Spotlight: Critical thinking opportunities

Honey Freesen RN, skimmed through some social media posts on her lunch break seeing yet another text from a colleague about “herd immunity”; It led her to pause. She did not know what to say.

Have you seen all the opportunities for your critical thinking skills?

Just look around to see how research and opinions on herd immunity offer a great opportunity for critical thinkers.

The Practice Expectations for RNs defines critical thinking as a skill involving analysis, logical reasoning and clinical judgment aimed at problem solving.  Critical thinking is a necessary factor to meet our responsibility to “demonstrate critical inquiry in planning for client care needs and evaluating care provided.” Critical inquiry builds from critical thinking to “encompass critical reflection on actions.”

Let’s consider when health care professionals, policy makers or the media refer to the benefits of herd immunity to prevent large-scale demise from certain infectious diseases such as measles or influenza. Herd immunity is a type protection to a disease, which can occur when enough of a population become immune to that infection, through either immunization or previous infection, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity.

Then, enter COVID-19 and you may also see questions or statements about herd immunity.  We all look for answers in this most challenging time.  Without critical thinking, this might appear like a path forward, until we consider the cost of herd immunity without immunization.

Without immunization for COVID-19, rapid attempts to achieve herd immunity leads to even more suffering among our population at once.  In addition, research is not showing that infection with COVID-19 provides the type of long-term immunity necessary.

So, with all the media attention and emerging evidence in addition to texts or opinions from people in your network, what can you do?   Would you respond, ignore or do something else?

Honey took another look at the text, it came from a source she trusted and she was curious.  After reading it, she paused again knowing any response had to be accurate and complete.  She then thought about a response: “I prefer critical thinking.”

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