Nurses and degrees - big mistake
Several years ago I gave a presentation to the Royal College of Nursing. One of the main points of my talk was that the main role of nurses was caring for the patient and helping them get better, and that that by sticking to this, nurses would be guaranteed to keep a valued place in society, whereas if they pursued degrees in a misguided attempt to become somehow more 'professional', and effectively cheap doctors, they would both lose the esteem in which the public held them, and also jeopardise their future in a world where AI could already outperform average doctors in diagnosis, and where robots were already starting to do the highest precision surgery.
The years since have proved me totally right. Many nurses have pursued degrees and the media's attitudes to nurses has deteriorated badly. We often read now how uncaring nurses can be, how lazy they can be, how incompetent and so on. They always made mistakes, but we used to overlook them because they cared. Now the media says they are too posh to care, we don't like them any more. The same people still apply for jobs as nurses, and education has never equated to intelligence, so many of the basic errors still happen. Whereas once a nurse learned on the job and had their mental ability focused on the actual requirements of the job, they now have a more generic medical education that is more academic and less practical, and therefore much more suited to a doctor rather than a nurse.
Medical treatments require that we understand the basic science, can design good equipment and drugs, know how to use them effectively, and can do so in practice, but it is a dangerous fallacy that this knowledge is needed by practitioners at every stage of the care delivery chain. We already have specialist scientists, pharmacists, consultants, registrars and junior doctors. What we also need is someone to make sure that at the point of delivery, the human needs of the patient are taken care of fully, both physically and emotionally. Science shows clearly that people get better faster when they are properly cared for, and the emotional support once offered by nurses was a demonstrably important part of that. Happy patients get better quicker.
So we need the traditional nursing function, because it is an important and cost effective part of the treatment process. If, as seems to be the trend, nurses are becoming too posh to care, then we will need to reinvent a new job that fills that role. Nurses are being converted into cheap assistant deputy junior doctors, but will compete for a useful role with cheap PCs and robots. Let's get them out of the way and let some carers take over. We need them, and R2D2 can do the other bits cheaper and better anyway.