New TV Shows Spotlight Nurses
By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Raise your hand if you also used medical dramas as study tools during nursing school. Depending on the era in which you attended nursing school, the shows that peaked your medical interest may have included shows like M*A*S*H, or for today’s nursing students, Grey’s Anatomy. For my nursing class, the study tool of choice was ER. Our instructors even took note of the educational value of the show, prompting in-class discussions about various episodes and clinical scenarios. The timing could not have been more perfect when ER’s Emmy award winning “DIC” episode aired during our obstetrics clinical.
A few years after nursing school I was fortunate enough to be cast as an extra on Julianna Luisa Margulie’s (Nurse Carol Hathaway) final episode. Still working as a nurse at a local Burbank hospital, I found it both fascinating (and slightly irritating) that the equipment on the show was better than what I was used to on the floor. It was also interesting to watch the bevy of medical and nursing technical advisors working with the cast between takes, ensuring that important medical terms and procedures didn’t get lost in translation.
Many nurses in the Los Angeles and New York areas, where television shows are usually filmed, have been employed as technical advisors for shows like ER, while continuing to work their “day jobs” at area hospitals. Two new medical dramas that specifically focus on nursing may increase the demand for nurses and travel nursing jobs, to act as technical advisors on the shows. On NBC, “Mercy”, a medical drama centered on nurses has received the industry greenlight for the 2009-2010 television series. On HBO, former “Sopranos” star Edie Falco will star as “Nurse Jackie,” a series that is reportedly based on the journal of a Manhattan ER nurse. It looks like media coverage of the nursing shortage has crossed over to a new medium that will no doubt continue to inspire nursing students as nurses take center stage in Hollywood.
Nurses and travel nurses: How realistic do you find medical and nursing dramas? Have you ever worked as a technical advisor in television? Would that be an appealing career move for you?
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.