There’s Greys Anatomy, ER, House MD, Private Practice, Scrubs, General Hospital…the list goes on! Medical dramas and shows based around doctors, hospitals and medicine bring the medical world into our living rooms all week through the TV networks. It takes us into the world of healthcare professionals packed with adventure, thrills, romance, the competition, tragedy, success, greatness, marvels and so much more that happens in the interesting lives of those who work in similar environments. Although if you actually speak to a doctor or nurse in reality, they will tell you their lives are not nearly as glamorous as the Mc Dreamy’s and Mc Steamy’s of the television hospitals. Whatever the reality, millions of us are glued to these shows and while things may not always depict stories without some added drama, these shows have made an impact outside the TV…and sometimes for the better.
Healthcare organizations have gone through great lengths to create general awareness about a number of diseases, issues and messages. Spending large sums on creating programs, campaigns, events and more to educate the massed on these. Let’s face it, we’re not going to watch a 4 hour documentary on some disease even if it’s going to help educate us. It’s boring. Few have been as successful as these prime time TV shows!
Subconsciously, viewers of these shows tend of pick up an immense amount of knowledge and health related facts simply by watching these shows frequently. If you look beyond the doctors love triangles, dramatic lives the characters live and the story lines crafted by writers, producers and writers of the shows do research and include a fair share real facts, real cases, real conditions and life like situations in the shows and mass audiences are becoming increasingly better informed without perhaps noticing it.
For example, how many rare medical conditions, symptoms and diseases would you learn about every week watching House on TV? Or how much more familiar are you with the cases you see in Greys Anatomy or ER? Subconsciously, medical shows have created a greater awareness of conditions, health and the medical processes among viewers everywhere. This doesn’t suggest everyone is smart enough to diagnose their own health issues or be their own doctors, but as patients of a healthcare system, these audiences could be better informed and more equipped to understand what they’re going through when they are faced with a health issue or hospital scenario. They’re more likely to know what an MRI, CT Scan, Endoscopy or Ultrasound is for. Perhaps more likely to know to consider issues like chest pains, leg aches, discoloring nails as symptoms and consult a doctor. They are more likely to know what not to leave out while actually consulting with a doctor to ensure they’ve given them as much information as possible to make a diagnosis. In general, many of them could come across as more educated patients and individuals when it comes to healthcare and this could be a great thing. After all, awareness is the key to staying healthy.
The downside is getting carried away by the knowledge one can take away from these TV dramas and assuming that they’re now in a position to be expert health care professionals themselves! Attempts to make one’s own decisions, diagnosis and self medicate / treat could be ignorant and dangerous. After all, watching CSI doesn’t make you an investigator, watching Top Gun doesn’t make you a fighter pilot so watching medical dramas, doesn’t really make you a doctor.
The negatives and entertainment value aside, there’s more to medical TV shows that meets the eye and they may actually be doing society a huge favor by educating us with the latest in field of medicine and healthcare, driving awareness and equipping viewers with the wisdom to take care of their health or at least know what to expect when health is an issue.