There are still some human qualities and tasks that technology can’t replace

Posted On January 2, 2019

Advances in technology are affecting, and in many cases disrupting, pretty much every industry. We all rely on computers now in some form or other, and digital tools and automation are transforming the way we do business while performing many jobs once held by humans.

What about nursing? We always hear that it is one of the few professions where demand is constant. Could robots or artificial intelligence ever replace the tasks performed by a nurse?

Lisa Mestas thinks not. Mestas, Chief Nursing Officer at University of South Alabama Health System and our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” says there are things nurses provide that she can’t see AI replacing, and one of the main ones is empathy.

While patients expect a skilled level of care wherever they go for healthcare, the difference for many is the human touch and kindness provided by a nurse during a difficult time.

“I believe we’re all here for each other,” Mestas says. “I think that’s what we’re here for – to help each other, to reach out and connect with each other. It’s not to connect with a computer.”

Nurses also provide a level of experience that Mestas isn’t sure AI could replicate. Many times they can see symptoms presented by a patient and already know how to proceed – simply because they’ve seen and dealt with the symptoms before. They also know that many cases that appear similar can in fact be wildly different.

“The human body is so intricate and it’s so miraculous, it takes people who have really seen these things,” she said. “You need people who know people. I don’t believe that in my lifetime anyway that computers are going to be able to do that.”

In a wide-ranging discussion on the industry, Mestas shares with us the demands of the profession, the keys to retention of good nurses, the biggest surprises new nurses get in transitioning from the classroom to the hospital, how longer life expectancies are transforming healthcare, dealing with patients who self-diagnose off the internet, and how the model of healthcare is changing to a team approach.

While advances in technology are making tasks like data collection more efficient and effective, Mestas says she doesn’t see the demand for nurses subsiding anytime soon.

“As the population ages, we need more nurses,” she said. “And as the nursing population ages, we need more replacements.”

Categories: Blog, What's Working with Cam Marston