1. Pruinelli, Lisiane PhD, RN, FAMIA
  2. Michalowski, Martin PhD, FAMIA

Article Content

How can artificial intelligence (AI) augment and elevate what is known and delivered by nurses on a daily basis? Is AI replacing nursing? How do nurses guide the decisions made by AI used in practice? Those are several questions populating nurses' thoughts currently, mostly resulting from a lack of understanding of what AI is and how it can and will impact their work. The broad definition of AI "refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence."1,2 AI is already embedded in nurses' daily life as algorithms (ie, sepsis monitoring systems) and smart systems (eg, smart beds and intravenous pumps), just to cite a couple of examples of AI applications. Frequently, we as nurses do not recognize them as such. AI applications are being incorporated into clinical care, and in many situations, awareness of their impact is uncertain due to a lack of understanding on how they are developed.


To address those questions first raised, nurses need to understand what is AI, what is the process behind the science of AI development, how to use it, and how to proactively use it for their own growth as scientists and to further alleviate their work burden. AI technologies are here to stay and change the way we think, process, and deliver nursing care. Why not then to take advantage of them in nurses' favor?


AI technology has the potential to provide visibility to nurses in places and situations where previously this was not the case. Nurses have been focusing on completing a "to do list," typically referred to as "type A nurses."3 In this short article, we discuss "low hanging fruits," that is, the task-oriented nursing activities that have directed many nurses and nursing education over the years. We propose moving nurses to a "type B nurses" categorization, augmenting their work with AI and incorporating it into their interprofessional work, refocusing them to using their knowledge to meet patients' emotional and spiritual needs, and coordinating care with a vision of leveraging care holistically rather than just focusing on the task.


Addressing more complex tasks or "hard-to-reach fruits" using AI, we will see nurses climbing to higher use of their science for better nursing care delivery. The possibilities of this shift are endless. For many years, nurses have been the center of carrying the burden of healthcare delivery, with physical and psychological burnout, mostly due to the overwhelming nursing workload and/or physically heavy tasks (eg, turning patients around, moving patients from bed to bed, transporting patients, etc).


AI brings the hope to alleviate nurses' burden, where smart systems and technologies will handle the "low-hanging-fruit" tasks nurses usually spend a lot of time on adding to their workload. This shift will result from automatization brought by AI technologies and the opportunity to free nurses from task-oriented and intensive-oriented work. Instead, nurses can focus on the "hard-to-reach fruits" and work at the top of their license as a result of more time available and better resources. In this augmented nursing-AI future, nurses will implement the best of their knowledge capacity and lead the interprofessional care for patients.


Holistic care, care coordination, and a proactive approach to patient care are just a few examples of how nurses can benefit from the adoption of AI into their practice. Nurses have historically been known for providing the holistic and "human" touch to patients. Nurses should have the time and resources for caring, listening, getting to know their patients, and reflecting what makes nurses the most respected and remembered professionals in America.4 For AI-augmented nursing care delivery, several factors need to be considered. Nurses need to be part of the AI generation from the start to the end, where nurses will trigger what is needed and how would best meet their needs in clinical practice. Ethical considerations should be taken into account regarding bias as well as clear and transparent development processes to then trust on the technology; thus, understanding the limitations and how to interpret results generated by AI technologies.


Nurses will be even more responsible for advocating for patient safety and privacy, where they will continue to provide clinical judgment and decide and take actions on care delivery and the use of AI technologies, in accordance with the nurses' code of ethics. Challenges include incorporating a more proactive thinking on nursing education, training, and skills development in such a way nurses will be an active agent on delivering augmented nursing-AI care. An education focused on critical-thinking skills rather than task-oriented skills is needed, with technology-embedded education in all levels of the nursing curriculum.5


Previously, nurses have taken a reactive approach to adopting new technologies into the care they provide. As development and implementation of AI accelerate, it is imperative that nurses are proactive in their interaction with the methods and applications that will define the care processes they follow in the future. Nursing as a profession and nurses as individuals needs to study emerging technologies such as augmented/virtual reality, novel interfaces to technology such as voice and touch, and quantum computing. Nurses must think outside the box and consider novel ways in which this AI will help them provide better care in the future. Finally, nursing must use this proactive thinking to lend its voice in the design and implementation of these technologies.




1. Russel S, Norvig P. Artificial Intelligence-A Modern Approach. 3rd ed. 2010. New Jersey: Pearson. doi:. [Context Link]


2. Gina Marie Giardina A. Artificial Intelligence-Air Force Research Laboratory [online]. 2021. [Context Link]


3. Thomas SP, Jozwiak J. Self-attitudes and behavioral characteristics of Type A and B female registered nurses. Health Care Women International. 1990;11(4): 477-489. . [Context Link]


4. 2021. Nurses ranked most trusted profession 19 years in a row [online]. [Context Link]


5. American Association of College of Nursing (AACN). The Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education. 2021. [Context Link]