Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Vincent A. Cristiani

Third Advisor

Susan Haussler


Critical and creative thinking skills are necessary for the new graduate and experienced nurses alike, if they are to respond to the rapidly changing health care system and deliver professional nursing care. Knowledge, generally speaking, is a resource not a constraint, but it becomes a constraint if it is not in the acceptable form. Consequently, knowledge alone is insufficient if the nurse clinician is unable to select the relevant information and defend its integration into client care. Skillful and perceptive nursing practice includes the ability to set and revise priorities for client care, manage actual and potential risks to individuals, and develop, evaluate and revise individualized plans of care. The focus in this thesis is on the application of critical and creative thinking (CCT) skills in nursing practice. There is a particular focus on activities and processes related to nursing care. Emphasis is placed on the use of knowledge in the acquisition and development of skills, and on problem solving. There is discussion of the ways in which nursing practice may be captured in writing. The relationship of CCT to nursing management is discussed and examples are offered. The CCT skills and strategies which are helpful in introducing the theory of modeling and role modeling to a nursing unit are presented. This theory focuses on the clients' needs and a model of their world as a base for nursing intervention. Nurses exercise CCT skills when being conscious of the need to imaginatively put themselves in the place of the other in order to genuinely understand the client. This technique relates to stage six of Kohlberg's moral stages of reasoning "...that of any rational individual recognizing the nature of morality or the fact that persons are ends in themselves and must be treated as such..." (1976, 35). Critical thinking then, should not only help to make those in the nursing profession better thinkers, but also better human beings.