An Introduction to Assumptions in Nursing

Published: January 6, 2018
0:05 Welcome to this short video An Introduction to Assumptions in Nursing! My name is Dr. Nancyruth Leibold
0:09 I want to start by saying that we will focus on assumptions and being aware of your assumptions in this video. Learners will: Define assumptions. Practice being aware of assumptions. I have refrained from using pictures or images so they do not distract your attention from the task at hand. What are assumptions? Assumptions are thoughts or statements taken for granted or believed to be true (Assumption, 2017) By checking your assumptions, you can determine if they are accurate or mistaken. With development of the skill of checking or challenging your assumptions, you can prevent critical thinking errors and communication errors. You might already be checking your assumptions, but you can get better! For example, when invited to a party or ceremony, did you ever ask or wonder if food would be served or not? Or perhaps you wondered what you should wear to an event? Keep doing these things—expand these thinking skills even more! And be more aware of them and when you are doing them! This will help you develop your critical thinking!
1:33 You can improve your critical thinking skills by developing a habit of challenging or checking your assumptions! In my research on critical thinking errors, failure to check assumptions were the most common errors. For example, one teacher was new to an elementary school. She received a roster of the student names and parent information. Next to the student names was a number. Most numbers ranged from 99 to 150. The new teacher assumed the numbers next to each student’s name was their IQ and she treated them accordingly. Later in the year, she found out the numbers were not the student’s IQs. It was their school locker numbers. Be careful about what you assume!
2:31 Assumptions become such a part of our daily lives, that it is easy to lose track of assumptions. However, failure to check assumptions can lead to making thinking and practice errors. Our values and prior life experiences can impact our assumptions. Childbirth beliefs, values, and practices can vary quite a bit from one culture to another. In some cultures, women do not wash their hair for 30 days after giving birth (Pung, 2015). Many cultures, such as South Americans, Indians, traditional Greeks, practice postpartum confinement (Pung, 2015). When nurses have a transcultural knowledge base, they can check assumptions about a women with dirty hair after giving birth. This is not due to laziness or being busy, or lack of shampoo, but may be a cultural practice. Knowledge and an open mind can improve the skills of checking assumptions.
3:47 Next, let’s talk about checking your assumptions. First, we will start with an everyday example of checking your assumptions. I like this example because I think many people check their assumptions, but are not even aware of it. For example, assume you are driving a car and the stoplight suddenly turns yellow and then red. You realize you have to stop. What do you do? Many people will look in their rear view mirror to see if there is a car behind them and to see if they are going to stop. Who wants to be rear-ended!
4:26 Let’s do some practice thinking with a focus on being aware of assumptions: We will start with some thinking puzzles. This is one strategy that can help you improve your critical thinking skills. Then practice this in the nursing arena to continue your further development. When faced with a situation to solve—ask yourself: how is this defined and what I am I assuming? This first one is a thinking riddle: What five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? Take the question literally. What did you assume as you read the question? Did you assume the word would become shorter in length? Or did you assume the word short would become shorter? The answer to this thinking riddle is shorter.
5:34 Remember: ask yourself: how is this defined and what I am I assuming? Forwards its heavy, backwards it is not. Sometimes it helps to think about what you are picturing in your mind. This can help you uncover your assumptions. Question if what you are picturing in your mind is a correct assumption. Are you picturing a scene? An object? A word? Keep your mind open to the possibilities. The answer is the word ton which backwards is not
6:56 Remember: ask yourself: how is this defined and what I am I assuming? Okay start by re reading the puzzle. What is being asked. You might have already noticed how communication is a related concept to critical thinking. Listening and reading of information can impact thinking about it! What is unusual so you are looking for something unusual What is unusual about the following words so focus on the words—not the concepts themselves or the meaning of the concepts So if you pictured or thought about what the concepts mean—for example pictured a banana in your mind—be aware of this Because you are really being asked what is unusual about the words So look at the words—what might you see Do you see any trends or repeating in the words? There are some words with repeating letters: na na in banana for example But what about revive? Do you see repeating letters? What if you moved the first letter to the end of the word? And then read it backwards? Now that is something unusual for the word And does it carry on for the rest of the words? The answer is Take the first letter of each word and place it at the end. It will spell the same words backwards. It takes practice but you can improve your thinking skills by doing some puzzles and then practice the skills daily!
9:41 When you work with people/families/communities think about what you are assuming related to the situation. What are their health beliefs? What are their health practices? What is the family structure? How might religious or spiritual beliefs impact their health practices? As a nurse, in your practice how are you aware of their beliefs and practices? How can you practice transcultural nursing based on knowing, understanding, and critical thinking? Think about this throughout the course!
10:24 Now that we have practiced being aware of assumptions, work this thinking skill into your daily life to improve your critical thinking skills. As you continue in this course (and others) use these skills to think about assumptions in what you are learning. Thanks for tuning in! See you in the courseroom!