Saturday, March 3, 2012

Judgment and Technology

Via Health Care Renewal, an interesting quote on the interaction between human skill and technology.  The quote comes from a paper on nursing, but I think it applies much more broadly:
Skill is the ability, drawn from education and experience, to do something expertly. It can also be defined as the effective exercise of professional judgment in non-routine situations.

Following prescribed rules, as a machine would, makes an employee competent to perform tasks, but it doesn’t make the employee skilled. They can do their job as long as there are no surprises. But when something unexpected happens, the rules break down, and caring for patients means facing the unexpected every day. Only skilled health professionals can cope with the unexpected. To know what to do, they have to rely on their own judgment. The exercise of judgment is the essence of skill.
The realm of the unexpected isn't limited to health care!

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