The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Critical Thinking Development in Healthcare

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

AI has the potential to help healthcare really understand their clinicians’ critical thinking ability. In the article from which this post is taken, HealthStream’s Associate VP for Clinical Staff Development, Christie Kerwan, spoke about what AI tools offer for clinical development.

AI’s Impact on Critical Thinking Development

From a training perspective, AI and simulation are revolutionizing the ability to assess, develop, and monitor an individual’s ability to critically think. AI and simulation are enabling healthcare providers with new opportunities to apply their knowledge before entering the clinical environment. With this technology, all of the components of a care environment are brought to the student and they are given a first-hand experience with patients, monitors, and other devices. This opportunity provides students with experience to understand how a piece of equipment should interact with a patient and what it does when something is going wrong. Through a virtual world, students are able to learn if something is wrong with either the patient or the technology, and how to troubleshoot the equipment if that is the source of a problem.

Taking Some of the Risk Out of Educating for Critical Thinking

Kerwan emphasizes application as a fundamental part of critical thinking, “Seeing how someone applies what they’ve learned based on their experiences and then formulates those things into a real plan that can be implemented is the crucial second part of critical thinking. AI and simulation enable application at a much higher level while eliminating the biggest risk of developing critical thinking skills in the healthcare environment—the fact that it’s a matter of life and death.”

Freedom to Make and Learn from Wrong Decisions

AI and simulation remove the effects of bad decisions, of life or death as the outcome. They allow the freedom for the student to make the wrong decision and for the evaluator to allow that wrong decision to occur, which lets students learn from failing. Kerwan adds, “Students are allowed to make a mistake and see the result of that mistake. When they get to the clinical floor they will have seen what happens when they make a specific decision and they will know whether or not to follow that same path. AI and simulation afford us the ability to let students take these risks and learn from them.”


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