7 Questions as AI-Powered Tools Inundate Healthcare Education
The public launch of ChatGPT has made artificial intelligence (AI) more prominent in news headlines, but AI has been present in healthcare for many years, including its use in healthcare education. For nurses and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) in training, AI-powered tools offer many practical benefits. These benefits are delivered without diminishing the role of expert educators or the necessity for students to develop their own clinical acumen.
Medical educators maintain their irreplaceable roles in delivering compassionate care and fostering inspiration, creativity, and empathy. As they incorporate AI into education, they can offer students innovative approaches to personalized learning, as well as immersive or simulation-based learning experiences. In addition to developing students’ baseline clinical knowledge, these practical applications of AI help prepare students to bring their critical thinking to bear in care environments where AI is providing clinical decision support.
By ensuring that educational environments keep pace with practice environments, higher education institutions training nurses and APCs can prepare students to excel in their clinical roles—which will include effectively harnessing the power of AI and other healthcare information tools to improve patient outcomes and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of healthcare.
ChatGPT offers students a user-friendly platform to obtain information and refine their clinical acumen. Similar to patient portals empowering healthcare consumers, ChatGPT empowers students by providing a wealth of resources. In the context of clinical education, ChatGPT can serve as a supplementary learning resource, allowing students to explore relevant medical topics, address uncertainties, and receive instant feedback on their understanding.
One of the benefits of ChatGPT is its ability to simulate clinical scenarios and case studies, offering students an interactive environment in which to practice their decision-making and problem-solving skills.
However, it is important to recognize that ChatGPT, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools, should be used in conjunction with traditional educational methods and human guidance. While AI can offer valuable support and information, the mentorship of experienced educators and direct patient care experiences are still necessary for students to develop comprehensive clinical skills and foster professional growth. Educators can provide students with tools to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by ChatGPT, as this not only ensures they are receiving reliable information but also fosters their critical thinking skills by encouraging them to question and verify information sources.
Ultimately, these advanced technologies should be viewed as supplementary tools that enrich the clinical education process, rather than as a replacement for essential hands-on learning and human interaction.
Personalized learning is one of the most significant predicted influences of AI on nursing education. ChatGPT can provide customized feedback, resources, and learning experiences to students, ensuring optimal learning outcomes. Receiving this real-time feedback can be especially beneficial in developing critical thinking and decision-making skills, which are crucial for success in practice.
- ChatGPT can present students with a hypothetical patient case, asking the student questions, guiding them through the process of gathering relevant information, interpreting clinical data, and developing a comprehensive care plan. This exposure to diverse clinical situations enables students to develop clinical reasoning abilities and cultivate their expertise.
Virtual simulation and other immersive learning experiences are also predicted to be enhanced by AI technology, providing students with practical experience and developing their clinical skills in safe, controlled environments.
- Example: Practice with patient scenarios: At The Ohio State University, in a training program from the American Nurses Foundation, an AI-powered tool pulls anonymized EHR data to create patient scenarios and the student nurse can practice assigning priority to those patients based on their assessment. They can receive feedback and repeat the exercise, improving their performance.
Educators remain vital in guiding students to connect course content with real-life situations and ensuring they can effectively apply their knowledge and skills in the context of patient care. Therefore, a balanced approach that integrates AI-powered tools and ChatGPT-assisted learning with traditional teaching methods can be a powerful strategy for enhancing education for nurses and APCs, preparing students for an ever-changing professional landscape and ultimately improving patient outcomes.
While ChatGPT can serve as a valuable supplementary resource in clinical education, potential misuses, such as overreliance on AI-generated information, inadvertent neglect of human interaction, fostering complacency, or misinterpreting knowledge, could hinder the learning process and professional development of nursing students.
As clinical education emphasizes both theoretical and practical knowledge, it is crucial for students to apply AI resources like ChatGPT responsibly and cautiously. Below are a few potential misuses and their possible consequences:
- Overreliance on AI-generated information: Students may excessively depend on ChatGPT to answer their questions or provide insights without cross-referencing the information with reliable sources. This could lead to misconceptions, misinformation, and poor decision-making, potentially harming patient care in the long run.
- Inadvertent neglect of human interaction: The convenience and immediacy of ChatGPT may inadvertently lead to students favoring digital interactions over human connections. This could impact their interpersonal skills and empathy, which are essential in the healthcare professions. Maintaining a balance between AI assistance and personal communication with educators, mentors, and peers is crucial.
- Fostering complacency: The ease with which students can obtain answers from ChatGPT might foster a sense of complacency, reducing the motivation to delve deeper into complex subjects or develop critical thinking skills. Students should always be encouraged to explore beyond the information provided by AI and strive for comprehensive understanding.
- Misinterpreting knowledge: AI-generated information may occasionally be ambiguous or misleading, resulting in students misinterpreting the content. Students should be taught to critically evaluate the information they receive from AI sources and cross-check with authoritative references to ensure accuracy.
- Ethical concerns: The use of AI tools, such as ChatGPT, in clinical education also raises ethical concerns around data privacy and security. Students should be made aware of these concerns and adhere to guidelines and best practices when using AI technology.
To maximize the benefits of ChatGPT in clinical education, educators must guide students to responsibly utilize AI as a supplementary tool while emphasizing the importance of critical thinking. This approach will ensure that future medical professionals are well-equipped to provide high-quality patient care while responsibly embracing AI technologies.
In an AI-driven world, higher education must equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to fully leverage AI and other healthcare information tools to advance their clinical prowess. This means that higher education institutions should provide students with a foundation in AI principles, data analysis, and information technology, in addition to their clinical education. While advanced nursing professionals like nursing informaticists already receive this type of specialty training, embedding the basics into all education and training across the healthcare professions will help medical professionals make the most of AI tools.
Formulating prompts: Understanding the importance of prompts in AI systems like ChatGPT can be crucial in obtaining the most relevant and accurate information. Students should be taught to effectively formulate queries, interpret AI-generated outputs, and adjust their prompts to get the desired responses. Through experience, students will learn to make their ChatGPT prompts:
- Open-ended. Open-ended questions are often more fruitful than yes/no questions.
- Specific enough—yet not too detailed.
- Technical enough—yet not bogged down with jargon.
- Contextual enough—without distracting irrelevancies.
- Iterative. Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to yield the desired result.
Ethical considerations: Higher education should incorporate courses on ethical considerations surrounding AI usage in healthcare, such as patient privacy, data security, and the potential for biases in AI algorithms. These courses can help students develop a comprehensive understanding of the complex ethical landscape associated with AI in healthcare and prepare them to navigate potential challenges.
Practical applications: Additionally, students should be exposed to the practical applications of AI in clinical settings, such as EHR systems, telemedicine platforms, and remote patient monitoring devices. Familiarity with these tools will enable students to integrate AI into their future practice effectively, reaping the rewards of future innovations that enhance patient care and optimize clinical workflows.
Training for critical thinking has always been essential in education for nurses and APCs. As AI and other digital resources increase the accessibility of information, this training becomes even more crucial. Nursing educators must strike a balance between delivering class materials and nurturing students' discernment and independent thought to ensure they can effectively utilize data, information, and knowledge in their practice.
Educators help students connect coursework to practice: Educators play a crucial role in helping students connect course content with real-life situations, so that they can apply their knowledge and skills effectively in the context of patient care. In graduate nursing informatics courses, which focus on analyzing and assessing clinical information systems, educators can effectively leverage ChatGPT as a supplemental tool in their lesson plans. Although the tool is helpful, it is far from being a replacement for educators’ experience or students’ developing acuity in discernment.
Educators, not tech tools, help students bridge gaps between concepts to solve problems: ChatGPT can provide concepts related to performing workflow observations, clinician interviews, data analysis, and information gathering with the goal of reengineering processes to improve efficiency and care quality. However, it falls short in making meaningful connections between these concepts. Alone, it cannot tackle the challenge, for instance, of developing an optimized future state workflow that integrates into clinical practice and does not disrupt it. Educators can bridge that gap and ensure students are well equipped to tackle real-world problems in their clinical informatics practice.
Students must learn to evaluate information: In addition to the core nursing curriculum, higher education institutions should prioritize teaching students how to critically evaluate and apply information from various sources in the context of patient care. Innovative teaching methods that foster problem solving, creativity, and adaptability should be incorporated alongside traditional content delivery.
- Faculty members at the University of California, Davis, nursing school have developed case examples featuring anonymized real people with real health conditions. Professors are creating a context-rich, authentic learning experience for students by including family members, cultural information, and sociodemographic profiles. The goal is to give students the experience of interpreting clinical details within the bigger picture of caring for the person and considering their best interests. These learning experiences also integrate experience with teamwork.
By focusing on critical thinking and equipping students with the essential skills to integrate technology and AI-driven tools into their practice, educators can ensure that nursing professionals are prepared to navigate the ever-changing professional landscape and harness AI's potential to improve patient outcomes while maintaining the human touch that makes nursing a uniquely compassionate profession.
Those evaluating student competency in an AI-driven educational environment should adopt a multifaceted approach, combining traditional exam formats, such as multiple-choice exams and scholarly writing assignments, with innovative assessment methods that reflect the dynamic nature of students’ future professional environment. Using a diverse range of evaluation methods, educators can ensure students develop the necessary competencies for a successful nursing career:
- Undergraduate nursing knowledge is typically assessed through clinical rotations and multiple-choice exams, which are effective for testing comprehension and preparing students for the NCLEX.
- Graduate nursing programs often rely on a mixed combination of clinical rotation hours, exams, scholarly writing assignments, and advanced practice projects, depending on the specialty.
- As AI becomes an integral part of nursing education, it is essential to assess students' ability to effectively utilize AI-generated information, alongside their understanding of core concepts and clinical skills. Competency evaluations may include simulations, case studies, and project-based assessments that provide a more holistic understanding of a student's abilities and preparedness for commencement into the nursing profession.
This comprehensive approach allows nursing students to hone their critical thinking skills and adapt to the ever-changing healthcare landscape. It also promotes effective integration of technology and AI-driven tools into practice, while maintaining the compassionate human touch at the core of the nursing profession.
By 2030, baby boomers will represent around 20 percent of the total U.S. population. This demographic shift presents a significant challenge for the healthcare system as the demand for geriatric care and support increases. We need a growing healthcare workforce capable of providing them with high-quality care.
The creation of highly qualified geriatric nursing professionals has always required comprehensive education and training in critical nursing skills, and empathy has always played a crucial role. In coming years, that empathy may be engaged when working with AI-driven tools, as the geriatric patient population may be resistant to adopting technology or uncomfortable with nurses using technology to provide care.
Students should develop essential clinical and cultural skills suitable for a dynamic environment: To foster student competency in geriatric nursing, a multifaceted approach should be adopted. This approach should reflect the dynamic nature of the care environment and ensure students develop essential skills, such as comprehensive assessment, medication management, and interprofessional collaboration. Students who build cultural competence and the ability to communicate effectively with older adults who may have hearing or cognitive impairments also contribute to the development of a skilled and sensitive geriatric nursing workforce.
Assessment methods should integrate empathy, simulations, and AI-based tools: Given the importance of empathy in geriatric nursing, assessment methods should emphasize evaluating students' ability to provide compassionate care, especially when integrating technology into the caregiving process. Assessments may include simulations, case studies, and project-based evaluations that provide a more holistic understanding of a student's abilities and preparedness for the nursing profession. Incorporating AI-based tools in assessments can offer unique insights into student performance, facilitating tailored feedback and continuous improvement.
Prioritizing the development of skills specific to geriatric nursing and utilizing diverse evaluation methods will prepare students to provide high-quality, empathetic care. This approach will ultimately enhance patient outcomes and meet the growing demand for skilled geriatric nursing professionals.
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.