All hands on board! Wait a minute – where is everybody? We may still be able to save it – the outcome is not a given – but without enough people we don’t have a chance…
This is not a feeling you want to have.
Here’s how providing services in a society works: Over decades and centuries, institutions form to fill a need for the greater good, giving birth to professions that will serve the population. Over time, the requirements to enter these professions continues to rise, and the body of knowledge necessary to administer these services becomes ever larger and more sophisticated. Eventually, things begin to improve for everyone involved – both the population in aggregate as well as the professionals that serve them.
But maintaining this level of growth and service requires care, and most importantly, the necessary allotment of resources. At it’s most basic level, having enough properly trained humans to do the job is required for the whole system to work. Someday, AI will take over a lot of these jobs, but even in farthest reaches of the future, as long as there are still humans around, they will need other humans to take care of them when they break down. Let’s use this as a simple metaphor for health care.
If you are a trained professional entrusted to administer healthcare as part of a team (nothing is done in isolation), you need a minimum number of other professionals to safely do the job. After all, the public is expecting you to be there for them when they need your services.
So what do you do when there suddenly isn’t enough of you around to administer the care? You can quickly arrive at a point where you are overwhelmed – not overwhelmed as in “this job’s too hard,” no, overwhelmed as in “this is starting to become dangerous – there’s too many people in need and not enough of us to take care of them.”
It’s not a good feeling – things start to become desperate – you don’t want to quit, but you keep waiting for help that doesn’t seem to come. The system seems to be breaking down, and you know if this goes on eventually there will be casualties.
I hope you never get put in this situation. I’m going to do everything possible to try and save my particular ship, but there’s a storm brewing…