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Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Can nurses replace doctors?

by , MD

The Internet gave employment nightmares to American doctors in specialties such as pathology and radiology because some of their work can be performed at less cost by physicians in other countries. Doctors in the not-too-distant future face another threat: competition from nurses with computerized diagnostic software that enables them to outperform physicians, according to Gates Foundation CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dennis K. Berman.

I discussed this at length in a LinkedIn article (Can Nurses Replace Doctors?) that should be read by everyone contemplating a medical career. If I am correct, you have little or nothing to worry about. If I am wrong, you may work for many years to become a licensed doctor and end up flipping burgers.

My perspective is as a former ER doctor knowing with 100% certainty nurses could not possibly do that job, even aided by superb software, without harming and killing so many people it negates the savings by using nurses instead of doctors. However, artificial intelligence and other facets of software will undoubtedly eventually improve so patients with non-emergencies need neither doctors nor nurses.

The greatest savings will accrue not from delivering care but eliminating the need for it via prevention—not the lip service we now give to that but advanced methods minimizing or preventing the big killers. I've spent many years developing preventive methods that are very effective in that regard but don't look or feel like prevention, with some of them being so enjoyable even folks addicted to the Internet will prefer using what I invented. Some of these innovations may seem unrelated to health but they significantly affect it, as you will see once they are commercialized.

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