Medicine on TV – “Trust me; I’m a doctor” 

Watching your favourite medical drama will help you learn a lot about the medical world — or at least, that’s what you’d think. Take a moment and think back to those kickass movies, TV shows and documentaries about the industry. What did all of them have in common?

When it comes to medical communication, it seems that most people are more interested in the drama than the facts. 

In the movies and TV shows, doctors can “see” things you can’t. They have heightened senses when it comes to picking up on body language and clues and can work out what’s going on inside a patient effortlessly. They combine all these sensory perceptions with their medical knowledge and superhuman intelligence to come up with an incredible bedside manner that puts patients at ease and helps them heal faster. 

It’s important to know the facts when watching these shows, because we live in a world where people get a lot of their information from what they see on television. 

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! 

In real life, doctors aren’t only spending their time treating patients — tons of charting and paperwork also come with the job; something that is never shown on screen. Look at Scrubs; it’s one of the classic medical dramas of the 2000’s and it’s hilarious. However, in one episode in particular Cox (the attending) tells J.D. (the intern) that he is too busy to evaluate him and tells J.D. to fill out his own evaluation form.  

Diagnosing a problem isn’t quick work! 

Doctors on medical shows often seem to diagnose rare conditions based on just a few conversations with the patient or a simple blood test. Though common illnesses might be readily diagnosed within a few hours, it’s not always that simple. Paging Dr House, the expert in giving an overnight diagnosis of a condition nobody’s ever heard of. From the bubonic plague to leptospirosis, it’s always a spectacle to see House work his magic.  

Doctors aren’t Swiss army knives! 

It’s not unheard of for an emergency room doctor to scrub in for surgery to save their ailing patient on TV. In real life, most doctors are highly specialised and usually handle a limited range of conditions. This is a common occurrence on most medical dramas, but Greys Anatomy is the worst of the bunch, with general surgery residents rotating through neurosurgery and first year residents performing appendectomies.  

Bedside manner does matter! 

On TV, doctors sometimes use a “tough love” approach to get patients to commit to treatment or even argue with patients over personal matters. In real life, this kind of behaviour would be grounds for dismissal. Dr House is again the worst culprit of this, breaking numerous hospital rules and even laws to show patients and colleagues his way is the best way.  

There’s no time for drama!  

While hospital romances do happen among doctors and other medical staff, the regularity of these relationships is nothing like the romantic tension portrayed on TV. Back to Greys as the perfect example, which has explored all kinds of relationships in its sixteen-season run, including Alex Karev and Meredith Grey both falling for patients. That’s a big no go in the medical world!  

It’s not all bad though! Doctors, nurses, and all caregivers are hardworking and brilliant. They may not be superheroes, but they all deserve recognition for simply doing their jobs, just as the casts of our favourite shows do. So, while there may be some unrealistic moments, one thing that these shows all have in common is an appreciation for medical staff, and I think we can all agree it’s warranted!  

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