Working in healthcare can be incredibly gratifying. Saving and improving lives in such a direct way is an experience that many people will never experience firsthand. That’s probably why so many love watching medical dramas, such as House or Grey’s Anatomy. By tuning in, they get to feel the rush and satisfaction of saving lives. Or so they think. Anyone who’s worked in a healthcare setting knows that those who watch these medical situations on television will get a less-than-accurate idea of what really happens in a hospital.
As clinicians, we know that medical dramas don’t always get it right. The situations that they portray are heavily dramatized and very different from the experiences of real healthcare professionals. Let’s look at a few ways medical dramas get healthcare wrong.
No One Does Charting!
Where is the charting in these shows? How can they keep up with any of the procedures they are doing? Admittedly, “MARS” and “TARS” probably don’t make for the best entertainment, but every nurse knows how important it is to keep up with patient documentation. Staying organized is essential. From talking with pharmacies and insurance companies to completing patient charts and keeping up with medical logs, there are many administrative tasks that medical dramas never seem to show.
Bedside Manner is Important.
Nurses know that excellent patient care includes having a compassionate bedside manner. Not everyone can act like Dr. House and get away with it! The “tough love” approach may be interesting for TV, but in reality, nurses are expected to operate with a high level of compassion and professionalism. Yelling at or being downright rude to patients would never be acceptable in an actual healthcare facility. On that same note, while clinicians should be attentive to those in their care, it would never be okay for nursing professionals to become too close with their patients. Some medical dramas have portrayed romantic relationships between clinicians and patients, which is unprofessional and illegal. Those scandals might help TV ratings, but they have no place in the real world of healthcare!
Colleague Dramas are Overplayed.
Ideally, hospital and healthcare staff should work as a team. They should share the same goal of caring for patients, support one another, and have excellent communication in the process. Colleagues in medical dramas don’t always seem to get this memo. There are scandals between staff members, flirting between doctors and nurses, and ongoing personal issues at every turn. In reality, nobody has time for all of that drama! While working with others in healthcare settings can certainly bring its challenges, we know that many of the scenarios we see on TV simply wouldn’t be tolerated.
Nurses Have the Most Face-Time with Patients.
It’s common to see doctors frequently visiting patients in many of the most popular medical dramas. They come to their bedside, administer IVs, give medications, and so on. In reality, nurses are the frontline workers who handle most of the bedside care. That’s not to say that a doctor will never see a patient, of course, but nurses will have the most consistent interaction with them. We love our doctors, but nurses deserve some credit too!
With all of the medical drama shows out there, it is clear that entertainment consumers have a fascination with medical situations. However, we know that the conditions portrayed on TV rarely line up with reality — and that’s usually for the better! At Gale, we are grateful to the nurses who deal with the daily non-romanticized version of healthcare. You are the real stars of the show!
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