Med Students and Grey’s Anatomy

Our radio show taping this week included a conversation with two medical students.  It was so refreshing and interesting to hear their perspectives on patient-doctor communications, and a variety of other topics.  Something one of them said triggered a memory of a recent Grey’s Anatomy episode (no — not the one with the ferry accident — I’m still sitting on edge to find out if Meredith will survive!)

 I asked if any of their experiences parallel what they see on TV.  “No!  No way!” was the reaction.  And they couldn’t fill me in fast enough on what is “real” to them vs what is fantasy.  Included was the fact that — in their experience — surgical students wouldn’t be participating to the extent Meredith, George, Izzie and Christina do.  Further, neither one has ever experienced nearly so much drama — their lives aren’t a soap opera.

Well, of course not! 

But, if you read the news, you get the impression that many of these TV medical shows are based on reality.  The producers (and advertisers, I guess) want us to think that their operating rooms, procedures, and other approaches are “real”.   OK — so I buy that they are giving it a shot.  In the “ripped from the headlines” fashion, they say they spin the show from real-life stories, giving them a new layer of interest, based on a level of authenticity.

But I, for one, say — thank heavens they AREN’T real!  If one of my loved ones or I need to stay in the hospital, need surgery, a trip to the ER or any of those dances we watch on TV, I do not want to think my doctor’s attention can be waylayed by the soap opera-ish problems we see each week. 

Yes — I realize that many of them are.  Doctors are human, afterall.  But when it comes time to do my job, I’m giving it 100% of my attention.  And I’d like to think that when a doctor does his or her job, I’m getting 110% of theirs. 

The quality of my work doesn’t take place on a platform of life and death.  But a doctor’s work addresses life and death every day.  That leaves no room for a soap opera. 

I’ll take my dose of drama on the TV, thank-you-very-much.

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