Starting in 2001, Scrubs puts a humorous spin on the hospital scene. The main character, JD, is always getting himself into troublesome situations and conflicts with other members of the hospital staff. The “real” scenes are then often interrupted by daydream skits that make jokes about the situation. However, while the show is a comedy, it still claims to portray the scene of a full hospital. This means that in watching it the viewer will form opinions about doctors and nurses roles in real life medicine. Here we will look at the nurses in Scrubs and what the audience is made to think of nursing in general by the show.
Nurse Carla Espinosa is one of the main supporting characters and appears in every episode. She is the primary example of nurses in the show, and therefore will be the focus of our examination of Scrubs. Carla is a strong person, both physically and emotionally, and this part of her personality is a key feature of her character. It is also a characteristic that is prevalent amongst all of the other nurses in the show. In Scrubs, nurses are always very sure of themselves and in charge of situations as much as the doctors will let them be (or need them to be, as in many early situations involving JD).
This reinforces to the viewer that nurses are a key part of the hospital and capable medical practitioners. Early in the show, which is now in its seventh season, the differences and struggles between doctors and nurses plays into almost every episode. After the opening credits the first narration heard from JD is: “It’s hard for doctors and nurses to be long-term friends. You see, when you start out the nurses know more than you, but after a few months the training kicks in and you both feel the dynamic shift. ” (Lawrence, 2001). Right after saying so, JD corrects Carla on a diagnosis, and is quite nervous about what her reaction will be.
This sets the scene for a number of conflicts between Carla and other doctors in the hospital. Carla asserts that while she may not be the top medical expert on the staff, she still knows what it takes for the hospital to run smoothly, and that her word is just as important as a doctor’s. It is good that in this medical comedy the resulting impression left on the audience is not taken too lightly. The nurses are as powerful and important characters as the doctors (although there are less main characters that are nurses), and it is made obvious that they play just as crucial a role around the hospital.