Of all the depictions of medicine in creative media, Scrubs is by far my favorite. Sometimes it’s difficult to really put your experiences into perspective until after you have been able to laugh, complain, cry, and stand in awe of them: this TV show, unlike most of the medical dramas, is able to capture the full gamut of emotions and complicated experiences. Moreover, it is based on the experiences of a real physician!

One of my good friends, bnjammin, recently interviewed Dr. Jonathan Doris, the inspiration for the character “J.D.” played by actor Zach Braff. Dr. Doris was a good friend of the show’s creator, Bill Lawrence, who listened to Doris’s tales of his zany experiences during medical school and an internal medicine residency.

“So, while even the most enthusiastic fan probably won’t be able to pass any medical licensing exam just by watching the show, Dr. Doris maintains that the show does, in its own quirky way, communicate some of the essential emotional experiences of medical training. “Bill is such a comic genius in that he’s able to extract what is universally funny. The show, and especially the pilot, expresses the anxiety that comes with being an intern, the sudden change in expectations from nobody expecting anything from you as a fourth-year medical student on June 30th and everybody suddenly expecting you to know the answer as an intern on July 1st. The show really captures that well and really captures the humor that stems from those situations.”

One part I found particularly encouraging and meaningful:

Dr. Doris notes, “No matter how technology improves or aids in resident education, there will never be a substitute for patient care, learning how to interact with patients and how to feel comfortable with treating patients… It’s those first times that really count and that define and shape someone’s medical training—the first time you see someone bleed out from a GI bleed or the first time you see someone code during an MI—those things never leave your brain. They never leave your mind, and there’s just no substitute for it.”

On a personal note, hopefully all this early experience I’m getting will make a big difference in making me a better physician than I would be otherwise! (My last scheduled shift this semester is my third shift at a free clinic for residents of two halfway houses for former drug addicts. I’m really looking forward to it, now that I’m armed with better physical examination and clinical diagnosis skills. I have really enjoyed my comprehensive anatomy, physiology, and clinical skills curricula, and I’m hoping that I can retain as much of it as possible through clinical work and a translational research project this summer.)

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