Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia)
One of the few male nurses in television, Peter Petrelli was a hospice nurse in NYC by day, and a superhero with the power to mimic other superheroes’ powers by night. While his day job mattered little on the show, it was still a nice metaphorical tribute to the real, everyday heroes: Nurses.
Carla Espinosa-Turk (Judy Reyes)
As the head nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital, Carla is the stereotypical dramatic, female busybody always poking her nose in the lives of her friends and family. She doesn’t just boss around her nursing staff, but the doctors and friends too, and unfortunately, her unwanted advice is almost always right. Carla isn’t afraid to stick up for her fellow nurses and often stands up to Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) who is hopelessly in love with her despite her marriage to Dr. Christopher Turk (Donald Faison).
Veronica Callahan (Taylor Schilling)
Sonia Jimenez (Jaime Lee Kirchner)
Chloe Payne (Michelle Trachtenberg)
Although Mercy only lasted for a single season in 2009, this rare, nursing-centric show had its bright moments. The show followed the lives of three nurses: Veronica Callahan, a nurse who’s also an Iraq war veteran, Sonia Jimenez, her best friend, and Chloe Payne, a new nursing grad.
Nurse Rose (Lauren Stamile)
Nurse Olivia Harper (Sarah Utterback)
Grey’s Anatomy mostly concerns the lives of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her fellow doctors; nurses were left to the sidelines until we met Olivia and Rose. Unfortunately, neither character has a positive story: Olivia earns the title of “Syph Nurse,” after an outbreak of syphilis is discovered at Seattle Grace Hospital. Her character leaves the show after being fired during the Seattle Grace — Mercy West merger.
Nurse Rose has a lengthier storyline, after catching the eye of Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) during a surgery after his breakup with Meredith. “McRebound” Rose has a brief relationship with “McDreamy” before Derek breaks up with her to return to Meredith. Reacting badly to the breakup, Rose accidently cuts Derek’s hand during a surgery and transfers to another department after apologizing. Drama!
Dell Parker (Chris Lowell)
The character of William “Dell” Parker isn’t just any male nurse. He’s a receptionist at Oceanside Wellness Group, training to be a midwife. That’s right. A midwife. And yes, he wears pink scrubs. Dell is a compassionate nurse, often empathizing with patients. Because of his interest in midwifery, (and the pink scrubs), Dell is often teased by his coworkers, and ends up leaving Oceanside to work for St. Ambrose Hospital. He returns after his list of demands is met, and his coworkers respect him for who he is, and his skills as a nurse. Unfortunately (spoiler alert!) Dell dies at the end of Season 3 from a brain hemorrhage after a car crash.
Whether it’s scandalous affairs between doctors and nurses, unraveling medical mysteries, or witnessing heartbreaking tragedies, medical dramas are always TV gold. Hollywood may glam up life as a health care professional, but they do get one thing right: Nursing is a career of care.