Medical dramas are popular fare on television. More than 25 percent of Japan's TV watchers apparently tuned in for the recently aired series finale of "Doctor X."
There are classics like "Shiroi kyoto" (The white tower), but the hospital wards and surgical theaters featured in more recent productions have also become quite realistic. In old series, you would see a patient recumbent in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on their face, except the mask tube didn't appear to be connected to anything. Female doctors would be seen walking into an operation room in high heels. I would often look at scenes like these with a wry smile on my face and think, "That just doesn't happen."
On the other hand, recent productions have collaborated closely with medical schools and hospitals, and actors apparently get direction from real doctors. I suspect that even if past productions had asked doctors for help in making their programs realistic, medical professionals would have thought TV dramas beneath them and said they didn't want to be involved. This attitude has changed. Now, doctors view advising on TV series as an important chance to reveal what really happens in the medical profession, and to inform more people about the facts of various ailments.
I think that is a very positive development. I welcome that, through cooperation between doctors and TV professionals, programs can now be made which are both impressive and informative. However, I must point out one thing: doctors and nurses are not all the heroines and heroes they are portrayed to be on TV; they are regular people.
This happened some time ago, but a patient in my office once told me, "I'm a big fan of a drama series featuring a psychotherapist. The doctor in that series really listens to patients, and even visits their homes when they don't show up on time. But you don't seem that eager."
I became quite flustered, and I interrupted the patient, saying, "That is a TV series. It's a made-up world. Real doctors like me can be a little perfunctory or get tired."
Back then, I could easily say that medical dramas were entirely made up things. But they have become increasingly realistic over the years, so perhaps I couldn't get away with the same explanation today. Now, if someone at my office said to me, "Doctor Michiko Daimon from 'Doctor X' is always on the ball and really cool. Compared to her you're...," what could I say? I have to admit I've been a little nervous about that lately. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)