Critical Thinking Tools for Quality Improvement Projects

Author(s): Kimberly Whiteman, DNP, RN, CCRN-K, Jason Yaglowski, BSN, RN, Kimberly Stephens, DNP, RN

Contact Hours 1.00

CERP B 1.00

Expires Apr 01, 2024

Topics: Evidence-Based Practice, Quality Improvement

Role: Educator, Staff

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

Added to Collection

Activity Summary

Required reading for all learners: Implicit Bias impacts patient outcomes

This article explains 4 critical thinking tools and 2 evidence-based practice tools that nurses can use as adjuncts to the nursing process (assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate) to facilitate QI. In clinical practice, registered nurses use observations, communications, and a stethoscope to assess patients and formulate diagnoses. In quality initiatives, nurses replace their stethoscopes with critical thinking, QI, and evidence-based practice tools. Nurses can use these tools in conjunction with the familiar nursing process to identify areas for improvement and, when appropriate, to plan practices changes.


  • Describe how the nursing process can be used to improve the quality of nursing care.
  • Identify the Institute for Healthcare’s Model for Improvement as a source of free resources for improving patient care.
  • Explore a clinical practice issue using one of the described critical thinking tools: spaghetti diagram, 5 Whys, & cause and effect diagram.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. No conflicts of interest have been identified for any individual with the ability to influence the content of this activity. Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing education only and does not imply AACN or ANCC approval or endorsement of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012. AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing (CBRN), California Provider number CEP 1036. This activity is approved for 1.00 contact hours.

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.

Refund Policy

Continuing Education Activities are nonrefundable.