University of Minnesota Creates Initiative to Explore AI Ethics in Nursing

The UMN School of Nursing is collaborating with nursing and informaticist leaders to develop recommendations for the nursing community by 2024.
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Published on August 28, 2023
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  • The UMN School of Nursing is partnering with the Nursing Knowledge Big Data Science Initiative to create recommendations for the nursing field by 2024.
  • Some health systems in the U.S. are using AI to transcribe relevant patient clinical conversations.
  • According to a study, experts believe the nursing field isn't incentivizing educators to teach emerging technologies.

The University of Minnesota's (UMN) School of Nursing is tackling a new ethics debate — artificial intelligence (AI).

The UMN School of Nursing announced a new initiative in June to investigate the ethics of AI in nursing. The school is partnering with the Nursing Knowledge Big Data Science (NKBDS) Initiative and informaticist leaders across the country to explore the benefits and risks of AI technology.

UMN said the school anticipates sharing its recommendations with nursing schools, nurse scientists, practitioners, health systems, and nursing organizations by 2024.

The NKBDS Initiative, begun by the UMN School of Nursing in 2013, meets annually to discuss issues, accomplishments, and goals in big data research within the nursing field.

"Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the care nursing provides; however without a better understanding of its implications and unintended consequences, it also has the potential to cause tremendous harm," School of Nursing Dean Connie White Delaney said. "Now is the time to develop a framework for the future use of AI in nursing and this initiative, along with others who will join, has the breadth and depth of knowledge to lead this effort."

The panelists include:

  • Constantin Aliferis, director of the Institute for Health Informatics
  • Kathy Chappell, senior vice president of Accreditation, Certification, Measurement, Quality and Research at the American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • Pamela Cipriano, president of the International Council of Nurses
  • Tracee M. Coleman, Clinical Informatics Consultant at Optum Health
  • Peter Klein, CEO and founder of Educated Change
  • Joyce Sensmeier, senior advisor of informatics for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
  • Olga Yakusheva, economist and a Professor of Nursing and Public Health at the University of Michigan

BestColleges previously reported that several health systems are using AI to summarize audio from patient clinical conversations into writing. Some healthcare researchers are exploring generative language processing AI, like ChatGPT, to help healthcare providers make diagnoses.

According to Stanford Health Care's chief data scientist, Nigam Shah, the largest challenge with language processing models is their ability to make up facts, which could confuse healthcare providers.

Shah recommended a staggered AI implementation into the nursing field, starting with a bot that could answer patient messages like, "What time is the clinic open?"

Some experts say the nursing field isn't doing enough to incentivize educators to adopt new pedagogies to prepare nursing students for emerging technologies like AI.

"Transformation of nursing curricula will be necessary to ensure future nurses are equipped with informatics competencies, as well as competencies in digital and data literacy to work in clinical settings that increasingly use AI and ML (machine learning) technology," according to a 2023 JMIR Nursing report, which cited a 2017 survey in its findings.

However, according to a Pew Research Center study, 60% of adult patients would feel uncomfortable if their healthcare provider relied on AI for medical care.