Robot Replacing Nurses: Is It Really That Far-fetched?

We’ve been hearing for decades that jobs will soon be replaced by robots. Factories have already experienced a decline in human employment in favor of robotics, and they aren’t the only locations seeing technology encroach on human territory.

However, it seems that nursing is a job that simply cannot be replaced by robots, right? After all, isn’t our goal as nurses to offer quality compassionate care? A robot, a simple collection of metal and plastic, cannot experience compassion, so how can they possibly replace nurses?

Actually, there are already paths being set to allow for an introduction of robotics into nursing. There is already a precedent that we’ve been seeing for years. Many surgeons and doctors rely on the use of robotics to perform intricate surgeries and other procedures, so it’s certainly not so crazy to think that robots will encroach on other realms of healthcare.

Japan, the technological powerhouse paving the way to even greater advancements than we have already seen, is a leader in devising robots specifically for the nursing field. Already, they are used as supplemental employees in nursing homes around the nation. There are even larger robots that deal directly with patients. The Robot Nurse Bear is an invention from the Riken and Sumitomo Riko Labs that was created specifically for doing heavy lifting – literally. This robot’s main function is lifting patients to move them from bed to bed or to transfer them to a wheelchair if needed. They can lift an adult from a standing position or even from laying down on the ground. This robot has made many nurse’s jobs easier; nurses can direct their energy and expertise for more important matters and no employees need to be taken from their tasks to just lift a patient.

Another Japanese robot nurse, Paro, is utilized as more of a personal nurse to patients that deals more with communication. Its main functions are to talk with shy patients and offer comfort and affection to help quell the loneliness that many elderly patients experience. They also are used to direct group entertainment programs, meaning nurses won’t be taken away from their daily tasks in order to run these programs.

Finally, the robot Pepper is used for more clinical matters. Pepper is a small, humanoid robot that features a screen on his chest, about the size of an iPad. This robot helps nurses with triage and can even make appointments for patients. He also is used to interpret patterns in health records and lab work.

With so many robotic options already being created, there is hope that technology can be used in a positive way in the healthcare field. However, you may be wondering if this will affect your own job as a nurse. We’ve been hearing about how robots are going to take over any day now, so does this mean that you’ll be out of a job once robots go mainstream?

Have no fear – your job is secure. In fact, robotics has become a necessity in nursing due to the nursing shortage happening worldwide. With fewer people entering nursing, there has become a serious deficit in hospitals and clinics that is greatly affecting patient care. Nurses are overworked and underpaid, and it can be difficult to prevent burnout when you’re covering for a lack of nurses on your shift.

Robots, then, can be more of a help than a hindrance. Of course, they won’t be able to perform the care and treatment that you provide, but they most definitely can be a source of physical help to nurses. BY replacing much of the auxiliary duties like paperwork, triage, and heavy lifting, robots will certainly lift some of the burden off of your work as a nurse.

Despite the growing presence of AI in healthcare, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to job security. You, as a human, are capable of offering compassion, empathy, and a listening ear, and that is simply irreplaceable.