How do I incorporate critical thinking and persuasive discussion skills into my staff orientation?

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Critical thinking skills are important to all healthcare professionals. But simple classroom exercises quickly become repetitive and somewhat boring. How about a debate? The class could be divided into two or more teams with some learners serving as the judges. Almost any topic can be chosen. There could be a debate about two distinct treatment options for a particular pathology or injury. Learners could debate the relevance of research findings as they pertain to clinical practice.

Choose two options for treatment. Gather some data to help team members prepare their arguments. Such data might include research articles, textbooks, and information from vendors if equipment is involved as part of the treatment. If there are members of the healthcare team who have particular knowledge about the treatment options, they may be persuaded to give brief statements of support for their preferred options.

Allow a certain amount of time at the beginning of class for the respective teams to review data. The panel of judges should be introduced to the same data but cautioned that their final decision is to be based on the presentations from the debate teams or the judging panel.

Each team is allowed the same time to present their arguments. But each team has the option to select their own way(s) of presenting data and arguing for their position. They may choose to give simple verbal explanations, role-play, or even have members of the team assume the role of patients being treated with respective treatment options.

Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

(November 2010)