3 Ways Grey's Anatomy Misrepresents the Nursing Profession

NursingFebruary 19, 2014

At first glance, Grey's Anatomy, one of the longest-running medical dramas to date, would appear to offer an accurate glimpse into the nursing profession. The truth, however, is that it is yet another oversimplified fiction created by Hollywood to draw in viewers with unrealistic practices and representations of nurses.

Grey's Anatomy, like most medical dramas, pays greater attention to the personal lives and romances of characters rather than their actual work. This issue is common within many of today's television shows; however, Grey's Anatomy takes it a step further by focusing on and glamorizing the role of physicians while downplaying the nursing profession and the important work that nurses do.

The following are three misrepresentations of nurses in Grey's Anatomy:

Doctors Do It All

In Grey's Anatomy, physicians often perform tasks that nurses typically do, including distributing medications, drawing blood and transporting and monitoring patients. Meanwhile, nurses remain in the background. They rarely interact with patients, while the show's doctors often spend hours comforting patients by their bedsides. In reality, many nurses chose their profession because they find this part of the job most rewarding.

Physicians Manage Nurses

Grey's Anatomy often portrays nurses as mere doctor's assistants with little individual responsibility. While nurses are expected to carry out treatment plans that doctors have created, they also have a responsibility to determine whether these plans will benefit the patient. However, not all orders come from doctors; nurses with advanced degrees can write orders and prescriptions.

Additionally, in Grey's Anatomy, it often appears as if doctors have the power to hire, fire and manage nurses at will. In truth, nurses are typically managed by other nurses.

Nurse is a Dirty Word

Doctors and others in the show often use the word nurse as an insult. For example, in the series' premiere, Meredith Grey's character was referred to as "clueless…like a nurse." Nursing is a demanding job that requires intelligence, skill and years of education — no place for someone who is truly "clueless".

Grey's Anatomy may provide insight into medical conditions you could encounter as a nurse as well as the general hospital environment. But it could be said that the truth of nursing is stranger, and vastly more gratifying, than the fiction presented by Grey's Anatomy.

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