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WATCH: 10 must-see medical movies

Even though you see the real thing every day, once in a while it’s entertaining to see how Hollywood does it — if only to catch the made-up absurdities! Whether you’re in the mood for an old drama or a wacky comedy, these top ScrubsMag reader picks will be sure to entertain you:

1. Patch Adams (1998) – Touching comedy with Robin Williams

“It’s the best medical movie — even if it’s sad.” – Nurse Owens

“It’s usually the nurses who bring the smiles, so I’d love to see a Patch Adams-type movie made about a nurse. In the meantime, this is the movie that inspires me to connect with patients more than any other.” – M. Fisher

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Drama with Jack Nicholson

“Why do I love this movie even though the nurse is evil? I guess because I see the darkest part of me in Nurse Ratched. And I know I’d never do what she does.” – Anonymous

“Every nurse should see this movie, just so they know what patients are referencing when they talk about the horrible nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” – Nurse Patricia R.

“I voted for this movie because it’s totally hilarious, even though it’s dated. You must have worked with at least one doctor who graduated from a university like this…” – Nurse Collins

4. Young Doctors in Love (1982) – Spoof/Comedy that has ALL the Stereotypes

“Funniest. Movie. Ever.” – K. Alspaugh

“I couldn’t believe the number of recognizable people (bet they wish they could remove this from their resumé!) were in this forgettable movie.” – Anonymous


5. The Dream Team  (1989) – Comedy with Michael Keaton

“It’s awful, but in a ‘good’ awful 80s sort of way. This one’s definitely for the psych nurses.” – A. Zucker

“Very funny psych movie.” – D. Morrison

6. Awakenings (1990) – Tearjerker with Robert DeNiro

“I love this because a nurse is key to helping the doctor arrive at the best conclusions. Go nurses!” – Anonymous

7. Something the Lord Made (2004) – Drama with Alan Rickman

“Movies that show breakthroughs inspire me. This one is about breaking the color barrier in medicine. I get chills when I see it!” – N. Eaves

8. The Doctor (1991) – Drama with William Hurt

“This is so good…I recommend it to the physicians I work with. It’s about a doctor who gets sick and has to deal with doctors from a patient’s POV. Very powerful.” – Anonymous

9. Sybil (1976) – Drama with Sally Field

“I both read the book and watched the movie. It’s a horrific story but a wonderful demonstration of how a medical professional (in this case a psychiatrist) can connect with and ultimately help a patient.” – Nurse Carter

“What made this story stand out for me was the inaction of her childhood doctor, even though there was clear evidence of abuse. Ever since I saw this movie I have been extra cautious to make sure that my patients aren’t being victimized.” – Anonymous

10. The Hospital (1971) – Black comedy with George C. Scott

“I love watching old medical movies to see the archaic equipment, the extreme stereotypes, and the nurse-doctor relationships (wow, they really got away with everything!). This one has some good zingers about nurses, too.” – Bea

Patient: So at 9:15 this morning I rang for my nurse…
Dr. Bock: Rang for your nurse?
Patient: To ensure one full hour of uninterrupted privacy.
Dr. Bock: Good.

What’s your favorite medical movie?

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24 Responses to WATCH: 10 must-see medical movies

  1. Kathy

    Best medical movie ever made!

  2. Kathy

    Should be a part of medical school, maybe it would teach doctors to have a better bedside manner!

  3. dollie

    There is a movie called “The Verdict ” with Paul Newman. The plot of the story is a group of doctors had a nurse falsify documents after a pregnant mom aspirated and died.

  4. Nico

    There is a movie called The Doctor (?) with Wm Hurt that is the BEST movie about the medical profession ever. He is a doctor w/ a God complex, and finds out he has CA. He learns how humbling it is to be a patient, and does not get any special Tx because he is a doctor. Great movie!!

  5. Nico

    OOPS!! There is is, number 8!! BEST MOVIE EVER!!!

  6. august

    the movie White Coats is very entertaining. It is a comedy about med students. I highly recomend it if you like comedies!

  7. Patrick Dolan

    I think John Q is a great medical movie. It shows how uninsured/under insured people can’t get treatment cause they can’t pay.

  8. George

    “Bringing Out The Dead” was a no-show… so was “Whose Life Is It Anyway?”

  9. Your name

    brendan fraser and harrison ford in extraordinary measures.

  10. Sarah

    Check out COMA, of the ’80s? Hauntingly, near reality 30+ yrs later…

  11. Kathleen

    I absolutely love “Patch Adams”. I have yet to meet a Dr like him though. It is very inspirational to me, and I think about it as I work sometimes.

  12. Tiffany

    Wit, starring Emma Thompson is easily the best medical movie I have ever seen.

    • roxychic0910

      I totally agree. Wit is by far the best movie.

  13. Gabby RN

    I would like to add to the Movie list, Dragonfly(2002 w/ Kevin Costner) and Seven Pounds(2008 w/ Will Smith)…

    • RNJedi

      Not sure how Seven Pounds would be considered a medical movie, albeit has some medical stuff mentioned mostly at the end in the hospital.

  14. nurse ratchett

    A classic!

  15. GarnerRN RN

    They left out an important but little known movie called The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. It’s french but I HIGHLY recommend seeing it if you are in our profession in any capacity.

    • Mskookaburra17 RN

      Loved the diving bell & the butterfly!!! Poignant, mvoing, excellent! Abolutley loved it!!!I rented it twice & watched it 4 times. Probably one of the most mvoing films ever made!!Very inspirational, very bittersweet! And it is a true story!!

  16. nursej11

    We had to watch “The Doctor” as part of our English class in RN school. Amazing movie!
    we also had to watch “Wit” which is not listed here but was another really good movie!

  17. Mskookaburra17 RN

    RE; psych movies, Also, “couch Trip”with Dan Ackroyd was funny, as was “Crazy People’ with Dudley Moore & Daryl Hannah. Of course, “One Flew Over…” a classic never to be repeated!!! Poor Ol’ nurse Ratchett could hardly get a jpart after that! Saw her in some awful B movie, that as it! I think its’ called “Typecasted!”.

  18. suzannern3

    Patch Adams is one of the best movies to see. I laugh, I cry, and laugh some more and still would love to work with the man! He’s probably 100 by now LOL

  19. jewels4jesus

    Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009, played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) was inspirational. It’s based on the true life story of a African American neurosurgeon, who had to overcome difficulties in school and temperament to reach his goals and make a difference in others’ lives.

  20. RNJedi

    I think Awakenings has to be one of thee best medical movies ever running a closely behind are: Outbreak, Flatliners, Shutter Island, Jacobs Ladder, Dead Ringers, One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Coma, and Dr. Zhivago. So many medical movies left out from the list.

  21. Frannylou

    I am surprised that what I think is hands down the best, funniest medical movie ever made is not even on the list…M*A*S*H !