The Three-Dimensional Thinking In Nursing


Have you ever considered your inherent thinking process? What are the depth, and width and height of your thinking? Examining your own thinking matrix could prove valuable as it might just encourage you to utilize your brain one step further than what you are currently doing. In this article, vertexes of the thinking process are theorized from the perspective of a nurse.

The model of thinking is based on the different dimensions (D) in which one can watch a movie, for example, 2D, and 3D. These are intrinsically based on graphs drawn on axes (e.g. x-axis, y-axis). It is fairly easy to imagine a 2D movie. This is when the visual is on both the x and y-axes. In other words, the visual is flat, but there are a width and a height to it. Plainly said, it is our normal television or computer screen. With that knowledge, one can extend your imagination to the 1D and 3D. Well, if 2D has 2 axes, then 1D will have one – thus only the x-axis. It is like having a television which is 30 centimeters wide but has no height and will screen only a horizontal line. Useless! On the other side of 2D exists 3D visuals. 3D visuals have three axes, the x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis. Thus, the visual not only has a width and height but has a depth also.

Consider the above explanation to a thinking matrix and apply it to nursing. One can think in 1D, 2D or 3D.

1D thinking in nursing is dull as it is, well, one dimensional as the name implies. Nurses who think in 1D might listen to a patient complain of pain and that is where it stops. They acknowledge the complaint but do not invest any further interest. These thinkers might have studied theory, but their knowledge is lost when the books are closed. 1D thinkers are dangerous as they pose no benefit to patients, colleagues or the healthcare institution. Fortunate enough, there are not many 1D nurse thinkers.

2D thinkers are probably the most widespread in the nursing field. These nurses are those who listen to the patient’s complain, perhaps perform some investigation (e.g. vital signs, ECG, etc.), and stop right there. 2D nurse thinkers will even be able to cite the normal values for these investigations, but they rarely apply these to the patient’s condition and circumstances. To epitomize potential, nurses need to extend beyond 2D thinking and become 3D thinkers.

Nursing is both an art and science where science is characterized by critical thinking skills. In order to be a critical nurse thinker, 3D thinking needs to be exercised. 3D thinking nurses do not only set up a nursing care plan but are able to execute it successfully. They do not only observe anomalies but act accurately according to their scope of practice. They are able to treat patients holistically within the context of their disease, social circumstances, and emotional responses.

Without delay, nurses should examine themselves to see what kind of nurse thinkers they are. According to each means, nurses need to evolve their thinking process by continues education, participation in research, diligent inquiry and peer to peer education in order to give quality patient care and excellent interprofessional collaboration. In what dimension do you think: 1D, 2D or 3D?
Mr. JDV Holtzhuasen: MCur (cum laude), Registered Nurse, Registered Accoucheur. I am a young, passionate male nurse working in the ICU setting. I have completed my Masters Curationis in 2017 at North-West University, South Africa. Currently, I am a registered nurse (general, community, psychiatry) and Accoucheur (male midwife).

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