The future doctor – a guide to avoiding redundancy to programmers and engineers

In todays society where technological advancements are made at speeds unlike any other point in history, the once highly revered profession could possibly become a thing of the past where doctors are made redundant to programmers and engineers. This will occur if the profession doesn’t adopt, adapt, and evolve. Being a doctor means you must first and foremost have an unwavering dedication to being at the service of others, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing. It also means you are willing to dedicate a significant portion of your life to the study of the life sciences which will involve rigorous and frequent testing to ensure competence. A doctor must strive for perfection and a lifetime of study so the rest of the population wont have to. This unfairly weighted pressure on the beautifully designed yet error prone system that is the human brain is why I welcome a future where doctors aren’t human, or in the very least play a much less significant role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. To reach this goal I believe the medical system must evolve and adjust the process of making a doctor to avoid producing an individual who will soon become redundant to programmers and engineers.

The problem

To study medicine, you must first gain access to a medical school. This is where I believe the majority of change needs to occur. It is likely that the majority of potential med school students are weeded out of the bunch simply due to fear of entry requirements and not even attempting to apply due to their seemingly unreachable nature. In the UK, aptitude tests such as UKCAT are used to further weed out candidates that exhibit similar academic performances. In theory these exams would be a good discriminator for what makes a good doctor, but in practice we are fighting a losing battle with such tests; not everyone best suited to becoming a doctor can excel at such aptitude tests, besides, studies have shown that success in aptitude tests specifically the UKCAT doesn’t always confer success through medical school. Even if these tests are effective, the human mind wasn’t designed to spot a series of complex pattern in 30 seconds or analyse a 300 word passage and answer several questions, 11 times over, in under 2 minutes each. These are just some of the senseless tasks required of medical school hopefuls when taking aptitude tests.

Our minds have a far better purpose. We can create things that are useful to us instead of being the things ourselves. We created boats to transport goods across water, we didn’t go on a search for the biggest strongest swimmers to do the job. If we have the potential to create more capable machines, it is surely unwise to leave tasks such as information recall, and quantitative and abstract reasoning to the human mind alone.

The solution

It has been long forecasted that soon most doctors will be replaced by artificial intelligence; this is the future I welcome. Gone will be the days of overworked medical practitioners and the series of misdiagnosis that follow. Gone will be the days of students committing ungodly masses of information to memory only to end up having to perform basic google searches once they become doctors as they forget the majority of the information.

All this, while leads to a better future, also threatens the redundancy of doctors to the programmers and engineers who will build the systems necessary for the complete medical overhaul. This medical overhaul is more or less inevitable, and may already be in effect. Every imaging analyser trained via machine learning to detect pathologies is one less job a trained doctor is needed to perform. My proposition for doctors to stay ahead of the curve and prevent becoming redundant to engineers and programmers is to become engineers and programmers themselves, or rather put more emphasis on such skillsets.

The future doctor

I believe a future doctor to be 3 things. A proficient programmer with a passion for creating tools and programs designed to make life easier and more efficient. The future doctor will be well versed in things other than biological sciences such as maths and physics – the root of all science, but also in art and design as this is the vessel in which ideas are communicated. I also believe a future doctor to be a problem solver at heart, such that they are able to create systems that assist in finding solutions to bigger problems rather than relying solely on ones own brain power to solve certain issues that a computer may be able to solve more effectively. All this begins in medical school and possibly earlier, where less emphasis should be put on cherry picking the genetically gifted, and more emphasis should be on finding and nurturing creative minds that can build a better future as opposed to simply hoping they may be the better future.

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