5-Minute MCH: Module 4.1

5-Minute MCH: Module 4.1

Critical Thinking

Module 4.1: 5-Minute Introduction

In this module we provide some background on the competency as well as context and information about our learning activities via a video podcast (see below). We also provide a context for you to Learn more about the competency and to start a conversation, so please Comment on what you have learned and Interact with others who have commented as well.

Download a PDF of the Presentation Slides.


Complex challenges faced by MCH populations and the systems that serve them necessitate critical thinking.

Critical thinking is the ability to identify an issue or problem, frame it as a specific question, consider it from multiple perspectives, evaluate relevant information, and develop a reasoned resolution.

Evidence-based decision-making is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence to guide practice, policy, and research. It is an advanced manifestation of critical thinking skills.

Implementation science is also a vital component of critical thinking in order to promote the adoption and integration of evidence-based practices, interventions, and policies. 1

Knowledge Areas

MCH leaders will demonstrate a working knowledge of:

  • The cognitive hierarchy of critical thinking: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, syntheses, and evaluation.
  • Basic statistics, and epidemiology, qualitative and quantitative research, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses.
  • The levels of evidence used in the guidelines of their professional associations.


Foundational. At a foundational level, MCH leaders will:

  1. Evaluate various perspectives, sources of information, merits of various approaches, and possible unintended consequences in addressing a clinical, organizational, community-based, or research challenge.
  2. Use population data to assist in determining the needs of a population for the purposes of designing programs, formulating policy, and conducting research or training.
  3. Formulate a focused and important practice, research or policy question.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to critically analyze research.

Advanced. Building on the foundational skills, MCH leaders will:

  1. Identify promising and evidence-informed practices and policies that can be used in situations where action is needed, but no evidence base yet exists.
  2. Present and discuss a rationale for policies and programs that is grounded in research and addresses the information needs of different audiences.
  3. Use implementation science to analyze and translate research findings into policies and programs.
  4. Develop and apply evidence-based practice guidelines and policies in their field.


Comment on the Presentation...

You can share your perspective on this competency with others in the field by entering your comments here. Tell us how you have personally applied this competency in your daily work, ask questions about the competency, or suggest additional trainings that can be used by others to support learning in this competency.

Click for Discussion Form

If you can't see/access the form above, please email your comments to mchnavigator@ncemch.org.


See What Others are Saying...

  • " The competency in developing Critical Thinking is always ongoing as we increase our knowledge and skills and share with others."
  • "Critical thinking as a competency is one of the first step to developing a discussion on thinking skills."


1Adapted from NIH Fogarty International Center Implementation Science Information and Resources.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $180,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.