I hit study-time burn out--Watching a little ER.....


I have to take a break every once in a while, so, I've been watching a bit of the "pre-Grey's" medical drama, "ER". The original main character was Anthony Edwards (yes, "Goose", from Top Gun). Being an older student, I actually watched this series from start to finish with my wife. I'm working my way back through it now.

I've made my way through "Grey's Anatomy" (not a fan anymore), "House", and "Scrubs"--I even used to watch "St. Elsewhere" with my Mom and Dad when I was a kid (yup--Howie Mandel and Denzel Washington were in a medical drama together). I used to watch MASH and I've been able to watch a bit of "Chicago Fire" here and there. Bottom line--I've seen quite a few over the last few decades.

Having been and EMT, Army Medic, and a Firefighter since the early 2000s, I've seen a few things myself, mostly on the EMS side. To say the least, my wife hates watching some of these shows with me. However, now, being in nursing school, and with my prior EMS and FF experience, I've developed a PRETTY GOOD nose for what's BS and what's not...

So, I decided to rank (well, its more like just a list) which shows I've found to be most accurate over the years and which I think are total BS, with a few in the middle. Let me know what YOU think...

Grey's Anatomy--Where to start? My biggest issue, I think, are that these docs and residents do all of the procedures that NURSES would do. I don't even know why nurses even grace the halls on that show at all...I always thought the total rejection of authority and utter disregard for standard medical procedures would probably be a pretty quick pathway OUT of a surgical residency, but, that's just me...

Chicago Fire--It's kind of fun, but, good grief--I know Hollywood tries to balance accuracy with drama, but, this show is really hit or miss. Of course the Firefighters and Paramedics are going to disobey orders and do that which they know they shouldn't. Some of the med procedures are alright, but, many of them are set up to work around some other drama. I like the camaraderie and some of the departmental rivalries, but, A lot of the fire stuff is just total bunk...

House--It's tough to rank these with so many different factors. How long do you think a defiant sociopath with an opioid addiction and utter disregard for authority would last in the medical field--no matter how good he is? Of course, the docs would NEVER be doing many of the specialty diagnostic procedures or lab work. And, can you imagine having a TB patient in a non-isolation room without negative pressure? The constant breaking and entering by the team-members to investigate patient environments? The science part of it and the mysteries were always super-cool. All that said--I LOVED that show...I really didn't care about the inaccuracies, but, in all honesty, this should probably be at the bottom of the barrel for it...

ER--My favorite by far. I like that the nurses have a semi-major roll in the show. Even the non-credited regulars stayed consistent over all 15 seasons (Halay, Chuny, Malik), and, a few of them were main characters (Carol, Abby, Sam). I know the docs do do more of the procedures that nurses would be doing, but, its not NEAR as bad a Grey's. And, watching this now the second time through with a better base of medical knowledge of terms, meds, procedures, and diseases, I'm noticing that this show never shied away from alienating the layman. They rarely dumbed it down, medically. Not to say there were not inaccuracies (especially if you really watch the things going on off to the side or in the background)--of course there were plenty. I always thought they worked a little TOO fast for a trauma team, especially in terms of patient safety--adds to the drama, right...?

One of the things I REALLY appreciate about ER is their portrayal of ethical and cultural issues. They always left you with the sense that there may have been another way to go, and that maybe one or the other were neither right nor wrong--very thought provoking. It often leaves you asking, what would I do?

Scrubs--Goofy and definitely a comedy, but, I always appreciated that the outcomes weren't always good and sometimes even unresolved--you didn't always see how things play out, suggesting that there was more to a medical story than you could portray in 30 minutes--I thought that was very realistic. I remember there not being much in the way of technical medical material, but, I've HEARD that the portrayal of medical residents and their interactions with other areas of the profession was very accurate.

Honorable (and not-so-honorable) mentions:

St. Elsewhere, Chicago Med (ugh), Quincy-M.E., Private Practice, China Beach, Emergency Room (90s sitcom), Chicago Hope (never saw it), Doogie Howser, M.D., The Good Doctor, Emergency!

Like I said, let me know what some of your favorites are/were and what you think of my list. What do YOU think is the most accurate and the most inaccurate, medically...?? What have you seen that is total crap? What have you seen that is really accurate?

Specializes in ICU. Has 3 years experience.

I watched a little bit of Grey's Anatomy and couldn't stand to watch it much longer than one and a half seasons. I actually found some of the "real life" (that's in quotes because it's real cases/patients/footage, but it's still dramatized) which are directed by Terence Wrong, which includes:

Boston Med (1 season)

NY Med (2 seasons)

Hopkins (1 season)

Save My Life: Boston Trauma (1 season)