The old quote, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,” has worked its way into our culture as a humorous way to downplay the role of TV doctors. After all, many people have cited these medical shows by providing overly dramatized and inaccurate portrayals of hospital settings. But just because an actor doesn’t have medical experience, that doesn’t mean they can’t inspire generations of people to become real doctors. These are just a few TV shows that made us want to go into medicine.
House M.D. (2004-2012)
This unique twist on the hospital drama adapts the character of Sherlock Holmes as an eccentric head of diagnostics in a New Jersey teaching hospital. Instead of solving murder mysteries, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) uses his genius to solve medical mysteries with a dark humor that kept viewers engaged for eight seasons. Despite the astonishing nature of the conditions and the treatments portrayed on the show, many medical professionals have hailed it as one of the more accurate hospital shows out there. Regardless of its accuracy, House’s razor-sharp tongue and wit made diagnosing horrific illnesses look downright fun.
The Good Doctor (2017-)
The Good Doctor, an American adaptation of a Korean drama, gives us Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), another medical genius who has trouble relating to his patients. But while House’s inability to relate to his patients came from a deep-seated bitterness with humanity, Murphy’s comes from the fact that he is on the autism spectrum. While the show has received mixed reviews from critics, most agree that Highmore’s sensitive and realistic portrayal of the role is noteworthy. Murphy’s compassionate heart toward patients, especially patients dismissed by others, is truly inspirational.
This off-the-wall, slapstick comedy follows the lives of several interns as they begin their journey into the medical field. Despite its zany, surreal daydream sequences, many professionals have cited the show as one of the more accurate portrayals of the early stages of one’s medical career, especially in the more serious moments of the show. And even though life wasn’t always easy for the show’s protagonist, JD (Zach Braff), the show’s fun nature still made us willing to give hospital life a try.
Call the Midwife (2012-)
Call the Midwife takes us out of a modern hospital and into a 1950s convent, home to an order of midwives and nurses who provide care to expectant mothers in East End London. This series, based initially on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, does not pull punches about the difficult situations that these women faced in the poorer areas of London. It does, however, pair it with moments of humor, warmth, and inspiration that would give anyone some compelling reasons to go into nursing or midwifery.
A good story will inspire those who listen. Whether or not these TV shows made you want to go into medicine, there’s no doubt that they left a lasting impression on our perception of medicine and those who practice it.
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.