TV has always had it’s share of healthcare professions in the spotlight. From “ER” to “Scrubs”, we’ve allowed some seriously awesome nurse characters into our living rooms over the years. But, some depictions of nurses put the profession in a better light than others and some TV nurses are downright crazy. Regardless, it’s still a treat to see our beloved career flash across screen. As nursing continues to be one of the hottest career options out there in 2015, it’s a good time to reflect on some of our favorite fictional RNs.
“Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan” on MASH
For over a decade, Loretta Swit played both humorous and series roles in her portrayal of “Hot Lips” on the show MASH. Not only that, but her character posed as a supreme role model for women as she spoke out against sexism in her male-dominated platoon.
“Carla Espinosa” on Scrubs
Judy Reyes played the ultimate sweet yet sassy nurse on the hilarious show Scrubs. It may have helped that Reyes had a real life RN for a sister. Either way, Carla Espinosa delighted us from 2001-2009 as the sensible colleague, wife, and friend to the other stars on the show.
“Nurse Jackie” on Nurse Jackie
Despite the many qualms regarding the morals of Nurse Jackie on the hit Showtime series by the same name, the stellar plots and writing make her character strangely loveable. Sure, she may have been addicted to drugs and having an affair–but, Edie Falco’s talented onscreen presence was hard to turn away from.
“Carol Hathaway” on ER
Besides the absolute jealousy most of womankind felt over Carol Hathaway’s on-again off-again romance with George Clooney’s character; her dynamic presence as ER’s head nurse helped make this long running medical drama a total hit with audiences worldwide.
“Ann Perkins” on Parks and Recreation
Ann Perkins is probably the most sensible character in a hilarious ensemble of characters on NBC’s hit show Parks and Recreations. The right-hand woman to Ann Poehler’s eccentric “Leslie Knope”, Ann is always there to lend excellent friendship AND medical advice.
“Helen Rosenthal” on St. Elsewhere
Christina Pickles played the more than competent senior nurse on the popular 80’s drama St. Elsewhere. On the show, her character showed strength against more than personal turmoils, but also a strong comradery between herself and staff at the fictional St. Eligius Hospital.
“Veronica Callahan” on Mercy
Despite this nurse’s post traumatic stress disorder battles, the character of Veronica Callahan was a fierce lady leading a pack of young Jersey nurses. However, even with the fresh script and realistic dialogue, the show only lasted one season before it got the axe.
“Julie Baker” on Julia
From the last 60’s until the early 70’s Diahann Carroll portrayed one of the small screen’s first African-American leading ladies in a non-stereotypical role. In addition to Julie’s strong role as a female of color, she also maintained a strong role as a single mother and Vietnam War widow.
“Peter Petrelli” on Heroes
Male nurses are largely underrepresented in our media, even today. Therefore, Milo Ventimiglia’s role a a supernurse (literally…he had superpowers) was almost a metaphor for nurses everywhere, regardless of gender. Because, when you think about it, all nurses are sort of like superheroes.
Did your favorite TV nurse make the list?