so why do you want to be a doctor? (part 1)

Well, because of Grey’s Anatomy, I want to become a surgeon.

I kid you not. I’ve heard more than one fresh-eyed high school/college kid say something along the lines of, “Grey’s Anatomy is so cool. It makes me want to become a surgeon.” To which I always respond with, “Do you have any idea just how inaccurate Grey’s Anatomy is when it comes to portraying the life of a surgeon?!” And they inevitably respond with, “I know. But it’s still cool.”

Now what makes these kids think they know the half of what it’s like to be a doctor, let alone a surgeon based on their absolutely zero experience with the field? All I can do is sigh and hope they’re not serious. Or that if they are, that I can rely on the ever-so-efficient-and-unfailing-to-weed-all-those-unworthy-out medical school admissions process to screen them out.

So how exactly does Grey’s Anatomy inaccurately portray the life of a surgeon?* Let me count the ways.
(1) They have so much free time! That’s why there’s so much drama. That would so never happen in real life. Not even close. I do believe that in real life, the ability to scarf down your meals faster than any other intern/resident is directly correlated with impressing your attending since you’ll have more time to exhaust yourself doing scutwork. So if there’s not even enough time for decent meals (Ever notice how they sit around in a nice little group and gossip over lunch all the time? So not true.), then how can there possibly be enough time for all that juicy drama? There isn’t.

(2) We’re a big happy family. Uh, not likely. Surgery is quite the competitive specialty. It attracts competitive people. Like Christina. But these competitive people don’t always get along and *gasp* sometimes even stab each other in the back. I’ve already experienced this type of thing in med school. Maybe they do get along on the surface since they do have to work with each other. But I doubt they’re really friends outside of work. And since they spend so much time at the hospital in each other’s company, it would only make sense that they would rather hang out with other people (preferably non-in-any-way-health-related) in their spare time. I could be wrong, but if I am, I’m sure that the big-happy-family scenario would be the exception and not the rule.

(3) Everyone’s single. No they’re not. Well, maybe they are if they’re surgeons. But still, that was the biggest shock for me when I started med school. I was expecting to maybe nab me some unsuspecting victim, but all the good ones were already taken, some married even. It doesn’t get any better when it comes to residency. Actually it gets worse since a lot of us decide to get married sometime before residency. So if you’re looking to score the way they do on Grey’s Anatomy, I think you’ll be a little disappointed. Unless you’re a Casanova, of course. Then I guess you’ll be okay despite the lack of single people since you’ll be able to woo married people and/or you’re not too picky about who you woo.

(4) We’re surgeons and we look great everyday. Come on now. They’re surgeons. They should be getting no sleep. Yet, even at their most frazzled, they still look way better than we do on a good day. Especially those scrubs, which was discussed in this post. And then there’s Addison with her up-to-there high heels. So not practical. I’m already too tired now to put the extra effort into the walking-without-falling-over required to wear heels. I doubt I will be any less tired when it comes time for residency. Or even afterwards. At least not unless I have a cushy private practice where I only work four hours a day three days a week. Which will be in how many years, if I’m lucky?

(5) Izzie and Denny. Need I say more? So unbelievably wrong! It was wrong when it started. Wrong when no one put an end to it way in the beginning even though they all saw what was happening. Wrong to let it come down to the I’m-totally-speechless crazy stunt she pulled at the end of the season. I was ashamed to even be watching such a thing. That’s just how wrong it is to me. And it’ll be wrong if she’s allowed to continue being a doctor after what she did. For more on doctor-patient romantic relationships (and how wrong they are), see this post.

So I hope I’ve convinced you young ones out there that the life of a surgeon is not anywhere near as glamorous or fun as they make it out to be on Grey’s Anatomy. If you’re dumb enough to still pursue such a career based on some crazy hope that maybe you’ll land yourself a McDreamy, then I can only hope that you’re never my doctor.**

By the way, check out so why do you want to be a doctor (part 2) for why you shouldn’t become a doctor because you want to be just like House.

*I’m purposely not discussing the problems with the medicine on this show since I don’t claim to be anywhere close to an authority on such things just yet.

**In case it isn’t clear, I have nothing against surgeons in real life. They’re great and I would love to become one if only I had the hands and the stomach for it. My problem is with how their portrayal on Grey’s Anatomy is misleading to some of our impressionable youth. Now, if said impressionable youth’s interest in surgery is piqued by Grey’s Anatomy and then they find out what it’s really like and they still want to do it, then they have my blessing.

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9 Responses to “so why do you want to be a doctor? (part 1)”

  1. 1 Giskin

    Enjoyed your post! What really worries me is how many med students say that House is their role model. I guess one has to ask how many doctors there would be if they knew what it was ‘really like’?

  2. 2 mylifemypace

    Exactly! I’m actually working on a post about just that. This one on Grey’s Anatomy just happened to end up being written first.

  3. 3 314

    when i shadowed one of my family friends who’s a pediatrician, she asked me if i watched any of those shows. i said i watched grey’s. “do you ever watch scrubs?” “sometimes” “yeah, cause so much of what happens on there and many of the personalities are real…”

  4. 4 mylifemypace

    That’s what I’ve heard as well…it used to be my favorite doctor show until the storylines got way too ridiculous…

  1. 1 so why do you want to be a doctor? (part 2) at My Life, My Pace
  2. 2 and yet surgery intrigues me at My Life, My Pace
  3. 3 so why do you want to be a doctor? (revisited) at My Life, My Pace
  4. 4 know what you’re getting yourself into at my life, my pace
  5. 5 stupid reason to go to medical school #219 at my life, my pace

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