Nine Fictional Clinicians I’d Like to Meet (Yeah 9 Not 10. I’m Picky)

In nursing, where years of working long hours can leave us feeling at times as if the tumor always wins, finding meaning is essential to happiness. People find meaning in different ways — some through spiritual practices such as meditation, others at a church, temple, or faith center.

photo by jparadisi

photo by jparadisi

When I can’t make sense of life by other means, I find meaning within inspirational themes of literature and art. Sometimes that meaning surfaces by way of humor. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. Maybe, at its finest, humor becomes a place where science, humanity, and art converge.

With humor in mind, last year, Scrubs magazine posted a list of “Top fictional nurses and docs YOU want to get trapped in an elevator with.” Getting stuck in an elevator would cause me the same escape anxiety that makes a wolf chew off its paw to escape a metal trap. However, the article did make me think about my favorite fictional nurses and doctors, and what I would say to them if I ever met them.

Here’s my list of clinicians and what I would say to each:

  • Dr. Frankenstein: In light of your previous laboratory experiments, what is your position on stem cell research?
  • Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, RN ( M*A*S*H, TV version ): Thank you for evolving from a rule- and sex-obsessed stereotype into a nurse comfortable with being compassionate, smart, and sexy. TV audiences would have been satisfied with just sexy.
  • Alex Price, RN ( An American Werewolf in London ): Exercise caution if you’re going to date your patients.
  • Phil Parma, RN ( Magnolia )You are an unsung hero, the home health nurse. You take on the pathos of the dying and their families alone. Without judgment, and through unorthodox means, you found a way to fulfill your dying patient’s last wish.  And when no one is looking, you grieve.
  • Hana, RN ( The English Patient ): Make more time for self-care and fun, instead of dating guys who are as self-destructive as you.
  • Gaylord Focker, RN ( Meet The Fockers ): Dude, if you were my coworker, we’d be BFFs.
  • Dr. Hawkeye Pierce ( M*A*S*H ): What time is happy hour?
  • Catherine Barkley, RN ( A Farewell to Arms ): Have you ever felt, like I do, that your dialogue is written in a way that sounds as if Hemingway never spoke to an actual woman?
  • Jenny Fields ( The World According to Garp ): You are the fictional nurse I’d most like to meet, despite your shortcomings. Your fierce independence is both a blessing and a curse. Despite this, you are a true healer, demonstrating profound love of humanity in all its diversity, weaknesses, and beauty. You inspired me before I knew I would be a nurse. I pray to have a heart as open and generous as yours someday. I think of you often.

Which favorite fictional doctors or nurses would top your list?

I Wish I’d Said It


When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me  didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.               John Lennon

Halloween Brain Cactus

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Halloween Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

 I bought my favorite 10 year-old a brain cactus as a Halloween gift. He like cars, motorcycles, skateboards, and some trading card game about fantasy characters with superpowers. He also likes houseplants.  The cactus is a hardy introduction to the care of houseplants. He’s remembered to feed the frogs I gave him last summer, and they thrive.  He’s a natural at nurturing, and perhaps I should give him an orchid instead.

       But, I bought him a brain cactus, and it’s cool. I remember my grandmother’s Christmas cactus and African violets, when I was a child. By the time I was in junior high school, I had my own collection of over 50 houseplants in the 8′ x 11′ bedroom I shared with my younger sister. To hear her tell the story, you’d think I was Seymour Krelborn  from the Little Shop of Horrors. It wasn’t that bad.  She exaggerates. She likes a good story as much as I do.

“Se non e  vero e ben trovato.”

(“Even if it is not true, it is a good story.”)

                                                        Italian Proverb

     At 1o, this boy is pretty interesting. What’s interesting about him, is his curiosity about the people and world around him, whether they relate directly to him and his life, or not.  He’s interested in things beyond his own desires and centric self, and that makes him interesting.

     I read somewhere it’s what we’re interested in that makes us interesting, and I think this is true. One of the many things I enjoy about nursing is the opportunity to hear other peoples’ stories about who they are, when they are not a patient. Frequently I am surprised by the accomplishments and talents of the people I meet. It’s the same curiosity that impels artists and writers to ask questions and observe the people and world around us, feeding our creativity.

     My father used tell me, in his Italian accent, “Sweetheart, never stop to devil-up (he meant develop, English was his second language) your mind. Stay cue-rious (curious).” It is good advice, and I hope I haven’t disappointed him as I’ve grown.  I don’t think I have.        

Happy Halloween!                                                                                                                       

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi

Brain Cactus photo JParadisi