It’s Operating Room Nurse Day, so we thought we’d talk with some operating room nurses about robots.
This is one of the jobs that is threatened by robots. The OR nurses we spoke with agreed that their jobs could be done by robots. one showed us, holding her hands to demonstrate the specific movements she makes as she offers a tray of tools to the surgeon. She held out an imaginary tray and moved it up, then down, then up, then down.
Definitely something a robot could do. Equipped with an Indramat servo motor, a mechanical shelf could make the precise motions she demonstrated, so it would just be a matter of identifying the right sensors to communicate with the servo.
Robotic operating nurses have been tested since 2005, and they seem to work just fine.
The operating room nurses were appalled by the idea.
“We need those jobs,” one said flatly.
Wouldn’t she prefer to let the robots do the repetitive task she had shown, so that she could do things that required human contact or human brain power?
No, she assured us. She was an operating room nurse. That was her job. A robot could do it, but it shouldn’t. She had trained for the job, and she was entitled to it.
The operating room nurse is the perfect example of a job that could and perhaps should be done by a robot. Medical costs are sky-high in the U.S. — Americans go to Spain to have operations done, because it’s cheaper to throw in a vacation on the Costa Brava than to pay for surgery in the U.S. And of course there are people who simply do without needed medical care because they can’t afford it. Robots could bring those costs down.
Retraining OR nurses to do other kinds of nursing that can’t be done by robots seems like an obvious move.