The last decade has given us dozens of memorable nurses that have graced the silver and big screens. While some have been a little more um..helpful than others, it’s no secret that these 10 nurses have made a lasting impact in the TV and film world. Our sophisticated ranking system looked at a variety of things including, helpfulness, knowledge of medicine, entertainment, and overall performance. You might even pick up a few “dos” and definitely a handful of “don’t” as we count down our top 10 nurses on TV and Film.
Top 10 Nurses
- Nurse Alex – An American Werewolf in London
Nurse Alex quickly finds out that David Kessler is not the typical patient, and in fact, he’s a werewolf. While I took points away for Nurse Alex’s choice in boyfriends (Seriously? Think about the fleas, and his unnerving diet) I do give her credit for sticking by her man when things got a little…hairy. Nurse Alex teaches the important lesson that no matter what, It’s important to take care of his or her patient, and that’s why she’s a top 10 nurse.
- Peter Petrelli – Heroes
Many didn’t know what to make of Heroes when it first appeared on TV almost 10 years ago. However, they did know that what they were watching was unlike any show ever before. One of the most popular characters, Petrelli was a hospice nurse that had the ability to mimic the superpowers of others. I took points away because we rarely saw him actually performing duties, but at the end of Season two he saves the entire city by sacrificing himself to save the others.
- Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I have to commend her for running her mental institute like a well-oiled machine, but her evilness supersedes any of her medical knowledge. Her crowning moment of nastiness is when she prompts the neurotic Billy Bibbit to kill himself by playing on his fear of his mother, purely because she’s afraid of losing her grip on the patients under her care. Her cold and calculated demeanor makes her one of the most infamous movie villains of the 70s.
- Carol Hathaway – E.R.
Half a dozen of the emmy-winning E.R. nurses could have made the list, but we picked one to best represent the dedication and commitment these nurses had. Played by Julianna Marguilles, Hathaway balanced a strenuous job as head nurse with her on-screen romance with the hunky George Clooney. We don’t condone these steamy romances, but we do have 5 tips for dating a nurse. Fans of the show got a proper look at the communication and drama that plays out in a typical healthcare setting.
- Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan – M*A*S*H
Sally Kellerman starred in the movie and popular T.V. show as the no-nonsense “hot lips” Houlihan. While she was already given a high score simply because of the nickname, Houlihan actually portrayed a sympathetic ear throughout the T.V. series. Houlihan displays on of the biggest ways to treat a patient, by simply listening.
- Madam Pomfrey – Harry Potter Series
Whether it was curing those stricken by the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, or tending to a quidditch injury, Pomfrey became a symbol of solitude in the HP franchise. Being a nurse is a very difficult job in reality, so it must be even tougher in a school where wounds from Sphinxes and falling off broomsticks are an everyday occurrence. It a school dedicated to spells and wizardry, Pomfrey uses good ol’ modern medicine to nurse her students back to health.
- Carla Espinosa – Scrubs
Combining comedy and just a tad bit of drama, Espinosa’s relationship with head surgeon Christopher Turk blossom from a work fling, to a full-fledged marriage with children. While the show’s focus was often on comedy, this had no effect on Reyes’ drive for authenticity, as the actress took inspiration, technical knowledge and personality for the part from her real-life-nurse sister. Espinosa has the spunk and attitude often needed to be nurse, leading a team to success.
- Jackie – Nurse Jackie
Although her personal life often spilled over into her work life, Edie Falco portrayed Jackie as a struggling nurse with a heart of gold. She didn’t always make the best decisions, but the showed us many of the personal problems that E.R. nurses often face. A few months back we gave some helpful tips for handling heartbreak at the workplace, but Nurse Jackie is a tough cookie. She did, however teach us to stare down adversity and stress and tackle it head on.
- Annie Wilkes – Misery
Okay so maybe we shouldn’t include Annie Wilkes on the 10 ten nurses list. After all, she’s not exactly the most, well, sane medical practitioner. However, we could say that she taught us that the nurse is always, and I mean always right. At the beginning of the flick, she “rescues” writer Paul Sheldon from a car wreck and forces him to bring his most famous character back from the dead. Maybe Wilkes can use some of our “Breaking Bad News Tips.” Her increased torture, used as the “healing process” made for a very scary villain.
- Christina Hawthorne – HawthoRNe
Known for it’s extremely accurate writing and portrayal of the nursing environment, HawthoRNe showcased Jada Pinkett Smith’s ability displayed the ability to balance a stressful home and work life. In 2011 Truth About Nursing noted the show’s representation of nursing authority and skill. Hawthorne displayed medical knowledge, sympathy, and a stellar performance and that’s why she’s our favorite TV/Film nurse. Pinkett-Smith and HarthoRNe top our top 10 nurses list.