Are Robots Replacing Surgeons?

I love visiting my grandad, he has the ability to put things into perspective. I’m sure this is relatable to most people but once I have visited with him things seem to make sense, he manages to achieve this by simplifying. He doesn’t understand modern technology so everything is always back to basics and such is true for most things in life, we tend to make mistakes with the fundamentals. Technology allows us to progress much faster and get access to information instantly, such things would have taken all week when my grandad was growing up.

Attention spans are getting shorter and the necessity to retain information is at an all time low. My grandad can work out multiplication sums faster than I can type into the calculator because they had to really learn things and remember them, they didn’t have google, how times change.

I was curious to find out if what a surgeon learns at the start of their surgical education becomes redundant by the time they finish their residency…

One of the modern day challenges with surgical training is being prepared to adapt with technology. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs. That’s potentially 15 years of education, if you’re graduating this year, in that same time period “October 2000 — AT&T Introduces Text Messaging to the U.S. August 2004 — Google Goes Public, Makes Search a Way of Life. June 29, 2007 — Launch of Apple’s iPhone Introduces Smart Phone Frenzy and now Virtual reality is about to be inside Mcdonald’s happy meal boxes” no joke.




Technology allows you to skip steps, promoted the ‘hour of code’ because they understand that it’s becoming increasingly obvious that people are using technology but don’t understand how it’s fundamentally built. People don’t even read the terms and conditions on software updates, I can’t imagine my grandad’s generation accepting terms and conditions without reading them first.



When visiting with surgical societies I always ask the question “Is implementing the use of technology about speeding up your progression through your education or is it about enhancing the learning experience?” Generally I receive answers that praise technologies like Touch Surgery, because it allows what you have read in books to be put into a more practical context, therefore enhancing the learning experience. The students were also keen to express that it’s not really about speed. “When you sign up for a career in surgery you understand that you are in for a lifetime of education so the technology is just to enhance the learning experience” and “having to adapt to the technological advancements is a welcome challenge”


In my recent visit with the Imperial College Surgical society I got chatting with one of the professors of anatomy about the impact technology and robotics is having on surgery. The gentleman took the strong stance that the fundamentals of surgery in a given field are applicable now just as much as they were 40 years ago. Changes in technology occur in any working environment but it’s important to remember robots still need direction from the human. Robots certainly are an advancement for example, improving accuracy of incision. However,  I would confidently say there is no concerns of robots replacing surgeons anytime soon.