• critical thinking;
  • nursing education;
  • practice;
  • clinical judgement;
  • context

Critical thinking is currently a highly valued educational outcome throughout the educational spectrum, but particularly so in relation to higher and professional education. International concerns have focused upon citizen’s thinking abilities and thus the nations’ abilities to function and compete in complex societies and economies. Educationalists are questioning the wisdom of teaching content as opposed to teaching how to think as a means of dealing with relentless information development and change. Nursing education is also embracing the construct critical thinking as a desirable educational outcome. Some commentators refer to the importance of critical thinking in nursing practice as a central component or in some cases a given. This paper intends to examine the background to the construct and address in detail some of the important questions surrounding critical thinking, and its association with competent nursing practice.