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The future of the professions

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’I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to consider the place and roles of professions as we hurtle into the digital age.’

Title: The future of the professions

Author: Ricard and Daniel Susskind

Publisher: Oxford University Press 

Reviewer: Lynne Partington, head of research, Evaluation and Technology, The End of Life Partnership, Cheshire

What was it like?

What if you were told…Professions are currently antiquated, opaque and no longer affordable and in the future, capable machines will transform the work of professionals, giving rise to new ways of sharing practical expertise in society? Whether you ”saw this coming” or refuse to believe that this can ever be realistic or possible, this is a book well worth reading. Be forewarned of two factors before you start: When the authors refer to the professionals, nursing is not included – when they discuss health, they mainly refer to medical personnel. Nursing is referred to as a para-profession. Secondly, this is presented in the style of a dissertation; it is not a light read. However, bearing this in mind, you are in for a thought provoking, challenging and persuasive read that may challenge some of your values and beliefs.

What were the highlights?

The key highlight is the core theory on which the book is based. The first chapter begins by examining the history of the development of the professions and arguing that professions are a construct that not only need re-organising but demand rebalancing. This sets the tone for first evaluating the current changes underway in relation to technology, but proposing that the future is uncertain without transformation. There are lots of practical examples and draws upon a broad range of international contemporary evidence to support the discussion.

It is well referenced book with the references in the footnotes for easy access.

Strengths & weaknesses?

As mentioned, this is not an insubstantial read, however the authors make this comprehensible due to their style of writing. The book is divided into three sections over seven chapters. Each chapter becomes a building block for the next with complex issues introduced early, then expanded upon as the book develops. There is a lot of cross referencing to previous chapters and sections, which keeps the concepts coming but with a good flow. As a visual reader, I would have found it helpful to have some of the arguments and discussions summarised in tables or charts. I also found myself disagreeing with some of the issues debated by the authors, especially in relation to the “future” of personalised care, but that can only contribute to the book in making the reader question their current (and future) practice.

Who should read it?

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to consider the place and roles of professions as we hurtle into the digital age. This is not solely health focussed, and does view ”professions” as a homogenous group, but this adds to the strength of discussion rather than detracts and provides perception from other professions beyond a medical one.

the future of the professions

the future of the professions


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