Clinical reasoning in experienced nurses

University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States
Western Journal of Nursing Research (Impact Factor: 1.38). 11/2003; 25(6):701-19; discussion 720-4. DOI: 10.1177/0193945903253092
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As an essential component of nursing practice, clinical reasoning is used to assimilate information, analyze data, and make decisions regarding patient care. Little is known about the reasoning strategies of experienced nurses who are not yet experts. This qualitative descriptive study explored the cognitive strategies used by experienced nurses as they considered assessment findings of assigned patients. To date, few studies of nurses' clinical reasoning have been conducted in a practice setting during actual patient care. A small group research design was employed using the think-aloud (TA) method with protocol analysis. A total of 15 experienced nurses were asked to "think aloud" about patient assessment findings. Data were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using the three steps of protocol analysis. The results suggest that experienced nurses used a conceptual language to reason about assessment findings and used heuristics to reason more quickly and efficiently.

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