3D Render of a Robot paramedic with first aid kit

The Robot (Nurses) Are Coming

Like it or not, robots and AI (artificial intelligence) are taking over more and more responsibilities that used to belong solely to humans. Everything from manufacturing jobs to fast food is fair game to automation-we’re even working overtime to allow AI to drive our cars! And some recent advancements-such as this one out of Japan-show that no job, not even nursing, is completely untouchable. But don’t worry-this could very well be good news for nurses everywhere.

With the current shortage of nurses projected to reach over one million by the year 2022, health care quality faces a huge challenge-a shortage means longer waits, less time per patient, and exhaustion for the doctors and nurses struggling to fill the need themselves. But some engineers from all across the globe believe that robots may be one possible solution to keeping health care running smoothly by taking over the more repetitive tasks nurses handle on a daily basis.

Take “Terapio”, for instance-a Japanese-developed robot built to assist doctors during rounds. Terapio’s technology allows it to track and follow a doctor automatically, all the while recording or displaying patients’ medical data on demand. Terapio has even been programmed to communicate politely with patients.
Other robots include models like “Pearl”-a Pittsburgh-developed robot designed to assist elderly patients. Pearl can be used either at a hospital or senior care facility, or the robot can be taken home to serve as an in-home medical companion. While not providing healthcare itself, Pearl acts as a personal medical assistant, reminding patients to take medication, of upcoming medical appointments, and hygiene-all while constantly learning to adapt to its patient’s specific needs.

Robots such as “Riba” are on the larger side and are being programmed to actually lift and carry human patients, while robots such as “Giraff” don’t replace humans entirely-it simply expands their reach via remote control.

The good news within all these robotic advancements lies in the robots’ ability to take over the day-to-day, repetitive tasks that fill far too many hours for modern nurses. As these tasks are taken off the “to do” lists, nurses are given more and more time to spend with the patients themselves-providing greater amounts of personalized care and attention than was possible with previous workloads.

“When medical and nursing care workers are released from menial and back-breaking work by sharing their duties with a robot, they will be able to concentrate more on interacting with their patients and providing knowledgeable, kind, and compassionate care,” writes the research team behind Terapio.

“It’s important to note that robotic nurses don’t decide courses of treatment or make diagnoses,” writes Joelle Renstrom of The Daily Beast. “This is one industry where it seems the integration of robots will lead to collaboration, not replacement.”

In other words, don’t worry about being replaced by robots in scrubs just yet. Just keep working hard serving those patients, because help is on the way.

For more information on beginning a career in nursing, check out the courses offered by Unitek College by clicking here.