3D Printing and the Future of Nursing Education

With the progress in technology, the contemporary world has become much more advanced than it was even ten years ago. Thus, the existing technology now serves the population in numerous industries and areas, and its assistance makes the lives of people more convenient and simpler. Moreover, the positive impact of technological progress appears to play a vital role in the life of the entire population, as people have been using various technologies specifically in the field of healthcare for many procedures and activities that contribute to successful treatment of patients.

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One of such beneficial technologies is three-dimensional (3D) printing, which is significantly useful not only in medicine, but also in education, especially in the field of nursing. The reason is that 3D printing implies digital fabrication and allows the creation of artificial parts of the human body for various purposes, one of which is practice and detailed learning. In fact, 3D printing is a relatively inexpensive and evidently a safe method for nursing students to utilize for studying and gaining practice, as any mistake made when working with such artificial objects does not cost as much as it would in case of practicing on patients. With this being said, 3D printing is a useful discovery that provides many benefits for nursing students.

To start with, the humans tend to view 3D printing as a method of entertainment that allows manufacturing a variety of materials. However, the novel technology appears to have many more implications than one may consider. Thus, Maryville University (2018) reports that by using biological gelatin ink, three-dimensional printing technology is able to produce three-dimensional copies of human biological organs. In fact, according to Ford & Minshall (2017), 3D printed artifacts that universities have already included in their educational settings to aid students’ learning include those used in the field of anatomy, such as airway models, bones, femoral artery, heart, limb sections, lungs, and skeletal tissues, along with those concerned with dentistry, such as cavities and prosthodontics models. With this in mind, this technology has made a vital impact on the area of healthcare and opened a number of opportunities for organ transplantation. Besides this, the ability to reproduce human organs and tissues has also provided nursing students with the possibility to gain a more detailed observation of the human body and obtain more knowledge in nursing practices than it has ever been possible.

To elaborate, it is evident that the material covered in nursing classes involves theoretical knowledge. At the same time, the areas in which the students apply the gained knowledge is solely practical, as they are to employ the learned practices to their patients in the course of their work. However, in order to master the proper, correct, and accurate application of particular procedures and nursing practices, the students should undergo corresponding training. For this purpose, it is useful and beneficial to use three-dimensional printing in a classroom setting, as the materials that this technology produces allow explaining “some objects that are abstract in nature and could be used to teach students about change theories or innovation” (Bassendowski, 2013). Equally important, the use of 3D printing does not only involve the completion of students’ practical assignments, but is also applicable for the professors to illustrate the material that they present. In the long run, students become capable of gaining an insight into the realistic parts of the human body and prepare them to face similar nursing cases in the course of their future career.

As the field of healthcare becomes more complex, the basic competencies should be maintained by nurses to provide the optimal quality of care. Furthermore, nurses should accept new technologies, since nursing practice is changing frequently at an extremely fast pace. With this being said, 3D printing can significantly improve patient outcomes in the future. Also, it is a useful technology for accompanying theoretical material with an explanatory practical implication for both nursing students and professors.

Not to mention, as 3D printing implies the manufacture of artificial tissues and organs that look and feel almost identical to the human parts, the implementation of this technology in a nursing classroom setting will increase the variety of student learning opportunities (Ford & Minshall, 2017). In other words, a frequently used method of teaching usually involves the approach of illustrating the provided material with explanatory visual aids. However, 3D printed objects can help to obtain fuller access to assignments that require a practical approach. Besides, improving the process of studying in nursing classes, applying such technology will change the educational system. In details, the utilization of the discussed technology increases the number of learning methods and expands nursing students’ chances of learning by studying detailed human bodies, tissues, and organs through the creation of their replicas.

Equally important, integrating artificial replicas of human organs and tissues allows nursing students to take a hands-on approach to how the technology works in general. In the long run, the implementation of 3D printing into a classroom setting creates an opportunity for nursing students to get familiar with the devices and the mechanism behind the three-dimensional organ and tissue printing, which will have a huge positive impact on students’ “technological literacy” (Ford & Minshall, 2017). In other words, they do not have to undergo any additional training on 3d printing technology and are able to start working immediately after graduation due to their experience in working with artificial models, which allows them to practice their developed skills prior to entering professional practice (Bassendowski, 2013). With this in mind, using 3D printing to aid learning in the field of nursing is much likely to make the students more confident in their skills and capabilities as well as to eliminate the need to spend additional time on obtaining knowledge and practice.

In addition, it is also crucial to consider the benefits of integrating 3D printing into a classroom setting from a wider perspective. In particular, Ford & Minshall (2017) report that the use of 3D printing technology, which includes digital manufacturing, appears to encourage students, inspire their creativity, and increase their engagement. In other words, making technology an integral part of the educational process and considering it as a learning aid will contribute to the level of students’ interest in studying that. In the long run, using this technology will improve nursing students’ academic performance. Furthermore, as technology allows for an independent studying, it also supports the development of problem-solving and decision-making skills of nursing students. When considering such outcomes of the use of technology in nursing class setting, it is evident that these skills are much likely to make a positive impact on the future job performance of nursing students.

Moreover, the advancements in technology allow the improvement and strengthening of many areas of peoples’ lives. Most importantly, one of such areas is education, for which various technologies appear to be a useful assistant. Consequently, while studies have already found many advantages of the use of 3D printing technology, it is possible to state that its integration in nursing classrooms is essential. The reason is that additive manufacturing allows for replicating human organs and tissues, which makes it possible for nursing students to gain a better understanding of theoretical materials that their professors provide and apply the used knowledge in practice. Such an approach to presenting and obtaining learning material is illustrative and explanatory that is much likely to contribute to the academic performance of nursing students. Similarly, 3D printing allows making the field accessible for nursing students by allowing them to master their skills prior to practicing in the course of their nursing career. In addition, the application of three-dimensional printing in nursing classes implies that the students start their career after graduation with a set of required skills and do not have to experience additional training. In general, the use of technology in the school setting contributes to the level of student engagement and the acquisition of other useful skills that makes 3D printing a necessity for integration in nursing education.

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