Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Ramirez


The health care field has become increasingly more complex, requiring new nurses to be prepared upon graduation to respond to a variety of complex situations. Unfortunately, many graduates from associate degree nursing (ADN) programs are not able to think critically upon entering the work force. This presents a major problem for the nurse and for the employer. The purpose of the study, therefore, was to gain a deeper understanding of the graduates' perceptions of their ability to critically think during their first year of clinical practice, and if they believed their program prepared them to be critical thinkers. The key research questions focused on how the novice nurses reconciled their performance on a critical thinking, online assessment, the Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT), with their perception of their critical thinking skills, and if they felt prepared, during their first year of clinical practice, to critically think. The conceptual framework applied was Bloom's Taxonomy and Tanner's clinical judgment model. A purposeful sampling of 7 novice nurses from 3 ADN programs was chosen. After completing the HSRT, audio-taped phone interviews were conducted. The data indicated that the participants felt unprepared to respond to emergent patient situations, thus undermining their self-worth and clinical competency. The participants agreed there was a need for a critical thinking course in ADN curriculum. A project was created for a 9-week critical thinking course, incorporating theory, clinical practice, and simulation exercises. Social change is expected to occur when student nurses are able to critically think upon graduation, resulting in positive patient outcomes, both of which will benefit patients, their families, and their communities.