Nearly everyone I tell I am a doctor asks almost immediately, “Is your life like Grey's Anatomy?”
It is annoying because 1) it isn’t, 2) I wish it was for the sake of (unrealistic) excitement, and 3) I hate Grey’s Anatomy.
Anyway, the conversation that follows usually goes like this:
Person: “Ha ha! So what is it like then?”
And this is where it gets a little annoying. It is difficult to explain to non-medical people what an internal medicine resident or internist does all day long. What I do is not that interesting, and I am sure the average layperson would be downright bored hearing a description of my day-to-day activities. (“I start the morning by reviewing labs on a computer. Then I walk from patient to patient asking them how they were last night. Then I spend the rest of the day struggling with the computer system trying to order a lab, paging consults who never call back, and occasionally doing some procedure that inevitably takes ages to set up for.”)
Non-medical people likely don’t understand the concept of rounding, the importance of ordering and following up labs, reviewing films with radiologists, and most importantly, how the time it takes to perform countless small tasks like these quickly adds up.
Surgeons have it easy here. They could simply say “I do surgery”, and everyone in the world would know what that means. Lucky bastards.
Enter Scrubs. This TV show has done a great job of capturing the realities of internal medicine residency and making it interesting. And because it is a popular show, many people are familiar with it.
I have therefore found the best response to “Is your life like Grey’s Anatomy?” is, “No, it’s actually like Scrubs.” People immediately understand.
Scrubs ... relieving doctors like me from painful conversations everyday.