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 true stories, an old drama or a wacky comedy, these top medical movies will be sure to entertain you:
1. Patch Adams (1998) – Touching comedy with Robin Williams
Based on the life of real-life physician Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams (Williams), the movie follows one of the most famous healthcare providers of all time as he discovers his passion for clowning around with patients.
“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
A haunting portrayal of Ken Kessey’s breakthrough novel, the movie follows a group of residents at a mental institution in the 1960s, including their desperate attempt to escape. There’s a little bit of Nurse Ratched in all of us.
“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.
3. Bad Medicine (1985) – Comedy with Steve Guttenberg
A wacky, over the top comedy about a surgeon’s son trying to master the art of healthcare, despite his bumbling personality.
“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
If you’ve ever dated a colleague at work, this is the romantic comedy for you. Just about everything goes wrong at this fictional hospital. Luckily, you don’t have to work there.
“Funniest. Movie. Ever.” – K. Alspaugh
“I couldn’t believe the number of recognizable people (bet they wish they could remove this from their resume!) were in this forgettable movie.” – Anonymous
5. The Dream Team (1989) – Comedy with Michael Keaton
A ridiculous tale in which psychiatrist takes his patients to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, and things pretty much go downhill from there.
“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
The amazing true story of one doctor’s discovery of L-dopa, which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease, after discovering several patients suffering from extreme rigidity.
“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
A devastating portrait of a broken healthcare system. A young black man aids a doctor in his medical research to help bring down systemic racism.
“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
A doctor goes through the motions at work until he gets a life-changing diagnosis, which makes him see his life and patients through a different lens.
“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
A shocking looking at what it’s like to live with multiple personality disorder. A psychologist helps a young woman come to terms with her past trauma.
“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
Things aren’t going well at this established teaching hospital. Patients seem to die out of nowhere, until the staff finds out they’re being murdered.
“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?