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Technology trials

By: Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

As AI disseminates, nurses take stock and plan.

Artificial intelligence (AI)—for better or worse—is all the rage. This broad description of algorithms and computer systems that drive the behavior of software programs, machines, devices, and the like is evolving quite rapidly. A hot topic in the news and social media, AI has been the subject of Congressional hearings and scores of white papers. Experts involved in the field have urged its regulation, while some of the biggest names in the tech industry have called for a temporary moratorium on further development of advanced AI systems to enable regulators to catch up.

As Congress explores how best to safeguard the public from potential risks of this technology while reaping its benefits, AI already permeates our everyday lives and has a growing presence in healthcare.

AI underlies electronic health record systems and prediction scores for diseases, devices like glucose monitoring systems and infusion pumps, and image analysis systems, to name just a (very) few of its well-established applications. More recently, nursing schools have been deploying AI-driven virtual reality tools in their curricula and researchers have been using AI to analyze big data for increasingly intricate and precise drug and genomic discoveries.

Nurses rely on AI-guided tools to plan and provide care, educate patients and students, conduct research, and manage staff and other resources—all worthy uses of this powerful technology. As the American Nurses Association Board of Directors articulated in its 2022 position statement, “The appropriate use of AI in nursing practice supports and enhances the core values and ethical obligations of the profession.” (Read the full statement at

Although nurses reap much good from AI, the position statement and the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements caution that, when engaging with systems and technologies, we can’t lose sight of the patients we care for. Our tablets, drug delivery devices, and the like should assist us but not in a way that diminishes our patients’ perception of the caring relationship we’re bound to with them. And we can’t outsource to AI-driven tools our well-honed decision-making, judgment, critical thinking, or assessment skills.

As AI has advanced, it has become clearer that complex algorithms are only as good as the data used to design, develop, and test them. Unfortunately, some use race-focused adjustments that perpetuate healthcare disparities that clinicians are fighting hard to eliminate. Examples include kidney function equations as well as risk calculators for breast cancer and vag­inal birth after cesarean (

Our profession has vital contributions to make in this regard. As end users of technologies and witnesses to how they affect patient care and outcomes, we have a clear role, working arm-in-arm with system developers and researchers, in better harnessing the power of data. Those of us not directly involved in informatics still have a responsibility to ensure that we use any AI-based application appropriately and evaluate its reliability.

We also are on the frontlines of educating patients, who may access popular but unvetted and unreliable AI-driven content to address their health concerns. Further, our patients may not have knowledge about the privacy limitations associated with health-related apps. Our insights can help them use apps beneficially while protecting their personal data.

As our society grapples with the rapid dissemination of AI, the nursing profession is wise to continue harnessing its power, understanding its potential and pitfalls while remaining true to our scope and standards of practice and ethical principles.

Jennifer Mensik Kennedy,
PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, President,
American Nurses Association

American Nurse Journal. 2023; 18(8). Doi: 10.51256/ANJ082320

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