The future of nursing in a technological age: computers, robots, and TLC

J Holist Nurs. 1992 Jun;10(2):183-91. doi: 10.1177/089801019201000208.


The computer has become a major tool in the medical treatment of disease. Computers can record vital signs, keep records, and provide central networks for interactive diagnosis. Individual medical histories can be contained in an optical card the size of a credit card. Advances in technology just over the horizon will permit an individual to consult a computer much as one now consults a physician for diagnosis, recommendations, instructions, and treatment. Surgery can be conducted in "virtual space," with the physician operating inside the body (via computer) as if he or she were present at the site of the surgery. Only a step beyond this is the development of robots who can do a better surgical job than a human being. What is missing from this scenario? Tender loving care. That is the nurse's job, and it is something that computers cannot do because it involves feelings and human communication that are beyond mere technology. Consequently, nurses will be needed long after physicians have passed into limbo. The practical lesson of this look into the future is that, although nurses certainly must remain in touch with the cutting edge of technology, their primary purpose will be to retain and sharpen the skills that Florence Nightingale introduced. Human response will never be replaced by technology, and the unchanging need for the nurses' caring function will assure their future.

MeSH terms

  • Computers / trends*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Medical Laboratory Science / trends*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing / trends*
  • Robotics / trends*