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TV Medical Professionals: Expectations vs. Reality

Several health professionals are inspired to join the medical field through their favorite TV shows. Shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scrubs,” “House,” and “The Resident” are popular for a reason. Medicine intrigues people, and these shows all include fast-paced medical action.

However, how much of these shows are fact versus fiction? Here we break down expectations versus reality so you have a clearer picture of what to expect behind the scenes in healthcare.

Which TV Shows Are the Most Accurate

Insider Inc. ran a piece on which TV shows most accurately depict medicine and the role of physicians in a hospital. “Scrubs,” “House,” and “ER” came in at the top. However, these came in as most accurate in depicting the lives of doctors and medical accuracy.

For nurses, “Nurse Jackie” received pretty good reviews regarding accuracy. The show highlights her emergency department’s struggle with staffing, her career, and her opioid addiction. It also follows the storyline of a new graduate nurse as she navigates beginning her career in the emergency department with Jackie.

However, there was some criticism that the show portrayed Jackie’s opioid addiction too lightly.

Which Are Great for Entertainment Value

Insider Inc. recommends “Grey’s Anatomy,” its spinoff “Private Practice,” “The Good Doctor,” and “Nip/Tuck” for purely entertainment purposes. However, while these shows may have great storylines, they don’t always accurately depict life in a hospital or as a healthcare worker.

For example, several scenes in “Grey’s Anatomy” have the surgeons running out to greet the hospital bay. In reality, this would typically be the emergency department staff.

There are also scenes in several medical shows depicting the doctor’s doing everything when in reality, there is often a much more considerable team effort. In any healthcare setting, teamwork is one of the key qualities for healthcare professionals.

For example, medical technologists or phlebotomists typically handle blood draws. And it is usually a registered nurse placing an IV or assisting with lab work.

Excitement in Real Life

While shows vary in medical and role accuracy, they all tend to get right the excitement of working in medicine. Whether your goal is to work in an operating room as a surgical technician or operating room nurse, or you prefer the important behind-the-scenes role of a sterile technician, there are countless opportunities in healthcare.


If you enjoy working in healthcare and providing patient-centered care but are looking for a change of pace, consider contract healthcare staffing. 365 Healthcare Staffing Services has several open positions and would love to work with you to find your next real-life healthcare role.