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Teaching Clinical Judgement
Welcome, nurse educators! This blog post is an enriching exploration of the intricate world of nursing education. In today's comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the critical skill of teaching clinical judgment, and addressing the challenges educators face in preparing nursing students for a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, and the newly formatted NextGeneration NCLEX.
Before we proceed, make sure to grab your complimentary lesson plans. Each lesson plan includes accompanying student resources. Alongside the lesson plans, you can kickstart your free educator account. Click the link below, or visit HappyNurseEducator.com to begin.
Removing Barriers to Learning:
NURSING.com's mission is to eliminate barriers to learning and foster equity among learners through a humanized, multimodal approach. As the nursing profession anticipates a shortage, enhancing student engagement becomes paramount since they start their journey in nursing school. The Core Content Mastery Method (CCMM), drawing from Bloom's Taxonomy, serves as our guiding philosophy to elevate cognitive processes, and maximize student engagement. HappyNurseEducator.com offers an array of resources, including lesson videos and clear explanations of complex nursing topics, all developed with CCMM.
Understanding Clinical Judgment:
Clinical judgment, tested directly on the Next Generation NCLEX, is not only crucial for patient care but also pivotal for program outcomes. Strong clinical judgment skills produce competent nurses, ensuring positive patient outcomes. This post aims to explore practical strategies for teaching clinical judgment, and equipping students for success in nursing school and their professional careers.
According to the NCSBN, "NSCBN researchers developed the NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model (NCJMM) as a framework for the valid measurement of clinical judgment and decision making within the context of a standardized, high-stakes examination," i.e. NextGeneration NCLEX (NGN). But this isn't really new. Clinical judgment and decision-making skills have always been a focus of nursing school programs' curriculum, but creating a new format to specifically test and measure these key skills is the aim of NGN.
So, with the launch of NGN in April 2023, nurse educators must ensure that teaching strategies are addressing these skills specifically, more than ever.
Incorporating Real-World Scenarios:
The NCJMM is just one of the newest additions to NextGen. Real-world scenarios are delivered to the test taker via unfolding case studies with item types to answer to exhibit passing clinical judgment. That's where memorization of facts, lab values, and lists of symptoms falls short in the dynamic realm of nursing.
Encouraging students to understand the "why" behind nursing concepts fosters critical thinking, and guides clinical judgment. HappyNurseEducator.com provides access to lesson plans unraveling the "why" behind nursing concepts for a holistic approach to patient care.
It's in these lesson plans where we provide you with the components from our evidence-based teaching strategy, The Core Content Mastery Method (CCMM). "Why Behind The What" is one of the primary strategies, because it helps learning skip up the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, just like the main focus of nursing curricula should.
These robust lesson plans also include case studies, and other study tools for nurse educators and students alike to learn and practice applying nursing knowledge to real-world scenarios.
Utilizing Case Studies:
An effective method for teaching clinical judgment involves the use of case studies. As the NextGen NCLEX incorporates case studies, their inclusion in teaching becomes crucial. Case studies bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-life application, offering practical insights into patient care. It's a form of simulation-based learning, which provides a controlled environment for students to refine their clinical judgment and decision-making skills.
An unfolding case study is set up to give the student the experience of working through a patient scenario, just like they do in clinical rotations, and will do as practicing nurses. As the case study unfolds, the student is guided by the nurse educator to critically think through each step, and to put the pieces together about what has changed with the patient, and how their actions have impacted outcomes. The nursing process, Assess, Diagnose, Plan, Intervene, and Evaluate (ADPIE) works beautifully in tandem with the NCJMM, and both are practiced as habits form through utilization of case studies.
Fostering Critical Thinking and Reflection:
Critical thinking and reflection are fundamental to clinical judgment. Questioning challenges thought processes, which encourages deeper analysis and reflection on clinical situations. Students must be guided, and empowered to be more curious, and to reflect on what has transpired. Journals become a powerful tool for students to reflect on experiences, facilitating growth and learning through retrospect. Post-simulation or clinical rotation debriefing sessions provide an avenue for students to discuss what went well, what didn't, and areas for improvement. This is also a great activity when wrapping up a case study!
Online forums provide a collaborative space for students to discuss and deepen their understanding. This is where the nurse educator can usher students to empower each other, and build teamwork. It's great practice for admitting mistakes, and learning from them in a controlled environment. Reflectively working through a scenario with other peers gives all students a chance for learning, and building critical thinking skills regardless of it being their own personal experience.
Having resources that foster critical thinking is also a great way to supplement classroom teaching. These resources can take many forms. With technological resources on the rise, students have more access than ever to tools that can be tailored to their learning style, so critical thinking can truly be nurtured.
Embracing Technology and Multimodal Resources:
In our technologically driven era, embracing technology and multimodal resources is essential. Catering to technology-native learners through e-learning platforms and apps offers flexibility and accessibility. NURSING.com's digital resources, including lesson videos and interactive modules, are designed to teach and reinforce clinical judgment skills.
Complex nursing topics are broken down into clear and concise explanations using CCMM, and are taught by world class nurse educators. Having alternative formats for digesting this information gives students a equitable chance to engage with their learning. Multimodal recourse provide multiple formats, so there's something for every learner.
The Art of Teaching Clinical Judgment:
Like all teaching, teaching clinical judgment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires nurse educators to adopt a multifaceted strategy that caters to various learning styles. The Core Content Mastery Method (CCMM), with its foundation in Bloom's Taxonomy, serves as a guiding principle to transform knowledge into usable practice.
Clinical judgment, positioned at the pinnacle of Bloom's Taxonomy, requires a nuanced approach. The journey begins with understanding the "why" behind nursing concepts. Instead of relying on blunt-force memorization, educators should guide students through real-world scenarios, encouraging them to apply their knowledge in meaningful ways. And as previously discussed, the Why Behind The What is just one of many tried and true teaching strategies from CCMM.
Think about this - If you had to memorize a list of symptoms with no other context, how useful would that be to nursing practice? Perhaps the list can be memorized, but then upon presentation of the symptom there’s no critical thinking about WHY said symptom has cropped up. That doesn't give a starting point of what to treat besides just the WHAT - the symptom. Good nursing practice is proactive, and knowing the WHY behind the WHAT helps breed that a proactive approach.
Case studies emerge as a powerful tool, offering students a glimpse into the complexities of clinical decision-making, and giving a medium for practicing it. The NextGen NCLEX, with its emphasis on case studies, underscores their importance in preparing students for the challenges they'll face in their nursing careers. Working within a case study allows you, as the nurse educator, to point out the assessment, and recognition of cues. Which is the nursing process, ADPIE, and NCJMM in action.
Teaching according to WHY behind the WHAT is also an excellent way to breed curiosity. The nurse must be curious, and not just accept facts just as they are. Being curious creates the right mindset for building critical thinking skills, and it can be taught!
As a nursing student I figured that because I’d been accepted into a great program that I should have already known everything theoretical in nursing, especially after getting through pre-requisite courses. At the time, I thought nursing school was just to learn how to chart, and get warm blankets for patients and to be nice to their families. But when I landed in my seat in first semester Fundamentals, and our professor said that to be a nurse we would have to be able to critically think - I panicked. I even Googled, “How to critically think,” in hopes that I could get a leg up.
Spoiler alert - I wasn’t curious, and had the hardest time developing critical thinking as a result. Because I wasn't curious, I wasn't developing critical thinking skills, and therefore wasn’t passing adequate clinical judgment . . .
Critical thinking and reflection form the bedrock of clinical judgment. Educators must employ questioning techniques to stimulate students' thought processes, encouraging them to analyze and reflect on clinical situations. Encourage them to seek out the WHY, because your teaching focuses on it.
Technology and multimodal resources play a pivotal role in engaging today's learners. E-learning platforms, apps, and online forums provide accessible and flexible avenues for students to reinforce their clinical judgment skills. NURSING.com's digital resources, aligned with CCMM, offer a comprehensive suite of tools designed to cater to the diverse needs of nursing students, and directly combat learning barriers.
As we conclude this comprehensive guide, it's essential to recognize that teaching clinical judgment is not a linear process. It's a dynamic journey that requires adaptability, innovation, and a commitment to student success. Nurse educators, armed with the principles of CCMM, have the opportunity to shape the future of healthcare by molding competent and confident nursing professionals.
In the face of an impending nursing shortage, the role of nurse educators becomes even more critical. By embracing diverse teaching methods, incorporating real-world scenarios, and leveraging technology, nurse educators can bridge the gap between theory and practice. As you continue to inspire and innovate in your role, remember that you are not just imparting knowledge but sculpting the future of healthcare. And NURSING.com is here, as your partner, to share the responsibility you have inspiringly taken on.