HealthMarch 09, 2017

Using visual cues to help build critical thinking in nursing students

For previous posts with sample activities designed to build critical thinking skills in nursing skills, please see this post for a puzzle involving numbers and this post for observational puzzles designed to help with visual assessment.

I'd like to share another activity that can foster critical thinking in learners. Here is my next picture for your study. (It is a picture of my beautiful granddaughter, Olivia, but I don't tell my learners that fact).

I ask my learners to write down their observations of her. What are the physical characteristics of note? What age do you think she is? What developmental milestones would we expect? Is there something out of the norm in this picture?

The biggest thing I hope they notice is her color. She is a purple/pink/blue cyanotic color because she has a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD), specifically Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). At this time in her life, her O2 Sats were at best 84%. (She has since completed her three heart surgeries and is doing exceptionally well, with O2 Sats in the high 90"s). This also opens a discussion of the care of chronically ill children and adults in this discussion.

While I do like to use written case studies for my classes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Many of our learners have never seen any of the conditions we teach, so that makes it difficult to know when a patient is becoming critical and needs immediate intervention when they are newly practicing nurses.

Some of you may be thinking that you don"t have access to relevant pictures. Most textbooks have a rich source of information online and activities that you can partner with your teaching topics. Peruse your family pictures and the free images on the internet. You might even create Emoji or cartoon patients (from apps) who have something noticeably wrong with them. The potential is limitless.

Michele Deck presents nationally and internationally on innovative teaching methods in the field of health care education and training. She is co-founder and chief executive officer of G.A.M.E.S., a company that specializes in seminars on adult learning and interactive training methods, and Tool Thyme for Trainers, a company which supplies innovative and creative presentation tools for educators worldwide. Honors include ANPD's prestigious Belinda E. Puetz Award, election to Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society, Business Woman of the Year by the National Business Council, and Best Over All Trainer by Creative Training Techniques Companies. She serves on ANPD's Education committee and was a member of the Editorial board of the Journal for 8 years.

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