Three insect-like robotic arms reaching into the chest cavity of the patient lying on the surgery table hum quietly while… the surgeon is sitting in a nearby remote-control booth, carefully directing the delicate operation from a distance with a 3-D precision that was not possible before.
Or, here is the 5-feet high porter robot with blinking lights, moving slowly on its rubber wheels through the crowded hallways of a hospital… it is quietly waiting for the elevator to arrive so it can deliver the blankets it’s carrying to the nurse station on the top floor…
Such scenes will become increasingly frequent in the hospitals of the future.
But guess what? Such a development was prophesied over a hundred years ago by the early pioneers of the 19th century political economy – that in a capitalist market, any given set of manual skill will eventually get replaced by machines for higher productivity and profits. And that creates both new pressures and opportunities for the healthcare workforce to renew itself through new training and career planning.
The inevitable trend is already visiting our hospitals in a form that will certainly impact the way our nurses and healthcare professionals will be trained and employed in the near future: robots are taking over an increasing number of functions, ranging from critical surgical operations to the delivery of various items around a hospital.
Robots, whether used in delicate surgery or just to carry goods around the hospital, are here to stay. This trend will eventually both present new challenges for some of our nurses as well as provide them with new and exciting venues to ratchet their credentials to new heights of professional excellence.
That’s why in our hi-tech future, the education and on-the-job training of our nurses will be more important than in any other period in history.