5 Ways AI is Transforming Nursing Education

Useful Applications From the Classroom to the Clinic

Asian nurse standing beside AI visuals

Most people get into nursing with the intention to touch—or even save—people’s lives by providing outstanding clinical care. Still, nurses are only as good as what they know, which is why the field of nursing education is constantly looking for ways to train nurses more effectively.

Competent, skilled nurses have a very real effect on patient outcomes in all types of healthcare environments. And because healthcare is often one of the first industries to benefit from advancing technology like artificial intelligence, we’re already beginning to see AI make a significant impact on nursing education and the rest of the medical field.

Like many aspects of our society, AI has the potential to revolutionize nursing education for students, instructors, and educational institutions. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most important ways artificial intelligence is poised to transform how we teach and train nurses.

1. AI-Enhanced Curriculum Development

To ensure each generation of nurses is better-prepared than the last, ongoing evaluation of training programs is an essential part of nursing education. Because AI-assisted platforms can process huge amounts of information at lightning speed, they have incredible potential to identify knowledge gaps, redundancies, or other opportunities for improvement in nursing curriculum. Analyzing curricula with the aid of AI can help teaching materials remain current in a fast-evolving healthcare industry.

AI also has a number of useful applications for educators. It has the potential to aid in developing lesson plans and test questions, and to provide significant time savings with grading assignments and other time-consuming tasks. By streamlining nursing educators’ workloads, AI-enhanced platforms can give them more opportunities to build personal connections with their students.

2. Personalized Learning and Adaptive Assessment

Learning styles vary significantly between individuals. Some people absorb material best through listening, while others need visual aids or hands-on experience to solidify certain concepts. One of the greatest challenges in any educational setting is adapting the material to suit different learning styles, and AI-assisted learning shows great promise in doing just that.

AI algorithms can help tailor educational content to individual students and their learning styles. For example, an auditory learner may listen to a verbal explanation, while a visual learner is shown a helpful infographic. By catering content to each student’s learning needs, it gives them the best chance to successfully retain the material. After all, when an on-duty nurse is responding to an emergency, it doesn’t matter how they learned which actions to take—just that they learned them in the first place!

Throughout the course of a nursing student’s education, AI-driven assessment platforms can also offer real-time feedback during assignments, quizzes, or tests. This can be highly useful in helping students master the material, as they receive tailored guidance while the subject is still top-of-mind, rather than waiting until their assignment is graded by an overworked instructor. And because spotting patterns is one of AI’s biggest strengths, it can help students discover any areas where they’re struggling, and connect them with the tutoring or study resources they need to stay on track.

3. Simulation and Virtual Reality (VR) Training

When it comes to staying calm in a challenging situation, there’s no substitute for experience. Encountering realistic clinical scenarios during their education prepares newly trained nurses to perform under pressure when they’re working in a real patient-care environment.

Immersive simulations are very effective in honing hands-on skills and clinical decision-making, and AI has the potential to make training platforms even more advantageous for nursing students. Artificial intelligence pairs perfectly with VR technology that places nursing students into a believable clinical environment—complete with patients who may be anxious, in pain, or even unresponsive. “Smart” manikins are also becoming increasingly common in nursing schools, with AI-powered communication simulators that provide a nuanced and interactive hands-on training experience.

AI-powered platforms can introduce new variables and difficulty levels into training scenarios to develop nurses’ skills, instincts, and clinical reasoning abilities. AI can also expose nurses to rare scenarios or complications they may not otherwise encounter until several years into their careers. Training in realistic simulations without putting patients at risk helps nursing students build confidence and emotional resilience and prepares them for success during their supervised clinical rotations.

Healthcare instructor with students using AI equipment

4. Predictive Analytics for Student Success

Whether it’s due to life circumstances or academic difficulties, many students with the potential to become great nurses need a little extra support during their education. AI-powered predictive analytics platforms can help identify students who may be at risk of dropping out and connect them with the resources they need to overcome their challenges.

By using AI algorithms to analyze data points like attendance, assignment participation, and access to tutoring resources, educational institutions can provide non-judgmental interventions that help students stay on track. Sometimes, a conversation with a trusted teacher or academic advisor is all it takes to remind someone they have options, and AI-assisted analytics can enable proactive outreach to students who might never ask for help otherwise.

Educational institutions that use analytics to keep students engaged in achieving their goals have experienced higher graduation rates and improved student retention. Empowering nursing students to succeed with the latest learning technology not only creates life-changing career opportunities, it’s a critical part of addressing the ongoing healthcare staffing shortage.

5. AI in Clinical Decision Support

Clinical decisions are made after considering all the available data, and AI has the potential to assist nurses in making better-informed care decisions by analyzing large quantities of patient information. AI-assisted clinical decision support systems have the potential to recommend next steps, calculate the odds of a patient’s condition deteriorating, or provide information about safety concerns.

These insights can help nurses develop their clinical decision-making skills, learn to connect the dots between various indicators, and reduce the risk of medication errors, misdiagnosis, or other common mistakes that can compromise patient safety. AI platforms can also integrate diagnostics and imaging data to help healthcare providers spot pathologies more easily.

Artificial intelligence can’t replace the expertise, instincts, and observation skills of experienced nurses. But it can provide them with powerful tools to help safeguard patients and maintain a safe and efficient care environment. As technology develops, AI and machine learning platforms continue to enable new ways for healthcare organizations to improve patient outcomes and better support their nursing staff.

AI in Nursing Education: Challenges and Ethical Considerations

While AI has many fascinating potential applications for nurses and nursing students, it’s not without its challenges and concerns. The use of AI in nursing education—and healthcare in general—raises some important ethical considerations that must be addressed if we hope to achieve true health equity.

AI algorithms are trained and programmed by humans, who are subject to many forms of conscious and unconscious bias. Without sufficient oversight, this could cause marginalized groups to experience similar biases from AI platforms that they often experience in current care settings. As AI applications in healthcare increase in number and scope, we must take intentional steps to ensure emerging AI tech uses algorithms programmed to be as inclusive and culturally aware as possible.

Since AI algorithms are trained using large volumes of data, privacy concerns with sensitive health data also come into play. AI platforms should only be trained using data provided with patients’ consent for that specific purpose. Like with all advancing technologies, transparency,  accountability, and expert oversight are paramount in ensuring ethical standards keep up with the latest developments and applications.

Because AI is an emerging tech, it’s not yet well-regulated by governments or health organizations. While regulatory policies are likely to emerge as AI becomes increasingly widespread, it’s important that they’re created with the best interest of patients and the general public in mind.

Close up of a stethoscope with virtual healthcare symbols

Prepare for a Changing Healthcare Landscape at Provo College

As AI becomes more powerful and better-trained, it’s all but certain to revolutionize the healthcare industry in the coming years. From fine-tuned curricula and personalized learning experiences to realistic simulations and useful clinical tools, AI has the potential to help future generations of nurses train more effectively and provide higher-quality patient care.

If you’re considering a career in nursing, it’s important to choose an educational program that gives you the skills and confidence to adapt to rapidly evolving healthcare technologies. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Provo College is designed to set you up for success in modern healthcare environments, with immersive VR training tools that prepare you for real clinical encounters.

Looking for more information about a career as an RN? Learn how to become a registered nurse, or explore potential specialties among the highest-paid nursing jobs.