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Nurse, academic and now Doctor: Lucy’s work helps health professionals deal with the march of AI

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6 February 2024

When Lucy Shinners isn’t caring for critically ill patients, or teaching the next generation of nurses, she’s pondering how to help health professionals deal with the staggering march of AI.

Lucy is an Intensive Care Nurse as well as the work-integrated learning academic coordinator for the Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University.

She has added ‘Doctor’ to her impressive list of titles and crossed the stage to receive her PhD at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast graduations last week.

A tool developed by Lucy as part of her PhD is now being used in 15 countries across the globe. The SHAIP tool – the first of its kind in the world - measures healthcare professionals’ perceptions of AI in the delivery of care. 

“All around the world we are questioning how our health workforce is going to contribute to the development and application of AI and how we prepare them to do that,” she said. 

“Some healthcare professionals perceive AI as robots, others believe that it is computer technology that can think and act like a human being with emotions, insight and intention, for others it is just a piece of technology that sits in the storeroom.

AI has stormed into the health sector – as it has in many fields – from assisting in the diagnosis of melanoma through to supporting the delivery of medical support in remote communities.

“There are a lot of trust issues and this often comes down to understanding just how AI works. The trick will be empowering healthcare professionals to come up with the ideas and get involved in or lead the development of new technology that will improve care delivery,” Lucy said.

Her thesis sought to identify how clinicians bridged the gap between perception and reality of AI use in their work. 

“There is huge potential to inform healthcare delivery and positively impact people’s lives but it’s got a long way to go,” she said.

“All around the world we are questioning how our health workforce is going to contribute to the development and application of AI and how we prepare them to do that.”

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“Education and training about AI should be front and centre. Interoperability, organisational support, privacy, liability and policy are equally important and currently unresolved in the complex domain of healthcare.”

Lucy said a PhD can test patience, endurance and commitment, but it was deeply satisfying when complete.

“You are heavily reliant on other human beings unselfishly giving their time, knowledge, support and experience to you on both an academic and personal level.

“I often described it to other students as a marketing degree that requires you to develop and believe in your own brand, have many awkward networking conversations, and come out the other end with a product that you can continue to develop.”

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