If you ask anybody in the world of medicine what they think is the intersection between science and popular entertainment, Grey’s Anatomy emerges as one of the most widespread household names in the category of medical shows. From never-ending social drama to surgery-induced emotional roller coasters, every episode I watch is filled with suspense. The show perpetually keeps me on edge, and as a student on the pre-med track I like to watch the show to see which aspects are realistic and which ones might not be.
The first commonality I found between the series and my experiences is the heightened level of stress in the atmosphere of operation rooms and emergency rooms. While shadowing doctors, I have encountered patients in many different critical conditions, from burns to cardiac conditions to neurological trauma. In the series, like in real life, the characters exhibit traits which are necessary for doctors to perform their jobs well in a high-stress environment, like the ability to think straight and quickly despite time constraints and the distractions and noise surrounding the doctor. Although I was only an observer in a hospital environment, I felt the importance of paying close attention to every small detail in the situation and being able to juggle them. I knew if I wished to take on that lead physician’s role in the years to come, I would have to begin practicing that level of close attentiveness early on. What caused the trauma? How do I formulate the patient update to the family without causing them to worry unnecessarily? What’s the best course of action when discovering a new impactful injury while treating the initial injury? I’ve started thinking about all of these things while still being in the observer’s position, both in front of the TV screen and physically in the hospital. To me, these considerations are part of the preparation required for what promises to be an exhausting, yet fulfilling, career.
When one sits down to watch the hit reality series Survivor, they’re in for countless hours of entertainment, drama, and an eye-opening look at an American social experiment. This is how it works – a group of about 16 to 20 people sets off to an island with only basic survival supplies and is then split into two tribes. These two teams compete against each other in frequent challenges to earn creature comforts or immunity and to avoid being eliminated. After each challenge, the losing team must vote for one of their members to be sent off the island and removed from the game. These eliminations happen until there is one final “survivor” who takes home the one million dollar prize. In theory, the premise of the show is simple. However, I’ve learned that there are many more moving parts to the game itself. The contestants protect themselves from elimination by forming alliances within their tribe and strategically eliminating other players who they believe could slow them down or pose a threat to them later on.
In the first season especially, there was a heavy emphasis on survival. The contestants were made to hunt and fish, gather food from the jungle, and cook only over the fires they managed to build. Many players used their fishing and hunting skills to gain the favor of others and therefore avoid elimination. Due to the lack of food and other resources, weakness and hunger can later put tribes at a disadvantage. Although the characters face harsh survival conditions, I like how it forces them to be more strategic about who they vote off and how they do it. In the later seasons, the aspect of survival is less relevant and the show is more focused on the complex elimination challenges and unique contestant personalities.
The tribes themselves also influence the flow of the show heavily. Through the show’s 40 seasons, there have been such divisions as “White Collar vs. Blue Collar”, “Gen X vs Millennials”, and “All Stars”, in which some well-known players come back from previous seasons. Some tribe divisions are fair and others are less so, thus influencing the order of eliminations and increasing the tensions between teams.