8 Misconceptions About Medicine that Grey’s Anatomy Taught Me

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Everyone loves Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, honestly, who could possibly hate anything Shonda Rhimes writes? Importantly, this is the show that has inspired scores of devoted fans to pursue careers as doctors. But not everything in the medical world is quite as glamorous as the show makes it seem. Here are 8 misconceptions about being a doctor that Grey’s has perpetuated:

The hospital = your home.

Literally. It’s not quite as bad as Callie making an apartment out of the basement (which I’m pretty sure is illegal?), but just about. I’ve heard of plenty of doctors going many nights without stepping foot into their actual home. That beautiful house Meredith had? Yeah, she probably didn’t spend much time in it at all.

Making a mistake is a serious deal.

That episode where Izzy cut an LVAD wire to save her love would have seriously cost her in the real world. Mistakes aren’t taken lightly. Even if the intentions are good, no one will cut you (no pun intended) any slack for killing a patient. Not cool, Izzy. Not cool.

Talking about patients is a big no-no.

Remember when Meredith and the crew would sit at the lunch table and gossip about all their patient’s medical history? Just, no. That should never happen in a real hospital. HIPPAA (or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) will find you and make sure you pay for what you did. HIPPAA is a big deal and it does come back to haunt many doctors, should they not abide by the rules. Meredith and Cristina better watch themselves.


The interns on Grey’s spend most of their time in the operating room. Real life is much less exciting. An intern (or first year resident) barely spends any time at all in the OR, and they can forget operating on a real patient. Most interns actually do SCUT work- which is basically a term for doing labs and other work no one wants to do for veteran residents and attendings. Sorry Cristina, no cardio for you.

Residents study…a lot.

Residents actually study a lot more than the one minute of airtime Meredith spends cracking her books. From what I can gather, residents study all day and night when they’re not busy SCUT-ing around. If you’re not making rounds on the patient floor, you’re deep in your book studying for your board exam or preparing for rounds the next day.

Perfect hair and makeup is not a thing.

In case it hasn’t been clear, being a resident involves a lot of long hours and hard work. That means the chances of you having time to do your hair or get your makeup done by a professional makeup team are pretty slim. I hate to break it to you, but Meredith’s perfect waves aren’t going to be coming your way unless you’ve been blessed with amazing hair.

Residents work, work, work, work.

There is very little ~free time~ (if that even exists in a resident’s vocabulary). Forget having a nice, relaxing breakfast at home in the morning–you gotta go!. No omelets for Meredith today…might as well have a granola bar. Eat, study, work, repeat.

There’s no such thing as a compromise.

You know how on Grey’s interns/residents are allowed to do emergency procedures to learn while the patient is dying on the table? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. And honestly, it shouldn’t. Residents should always be supervised and letting them fumble around with a really important tube while a patient is dying on the table is very problematic. Every patient’s life matters. No real life attending would put a patient’s life at risk simply for the sake of a learning experience.

Being a doctor is hard; getting through its training can be even harder. Watching the lives of fictional doctors only give a glimpse of what medical practice is really like. But although the show may be deceiving, we all know we can’t wait to watch the next episode as soon as the last one finishes–no matter how much we cry afterwards.

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