Tropes in the Media: Doctors and Nurses

  In the media, doctors and nurses are used to depict periods of war and chaos; It has ranged from both world wars– to today during the Coronavirus pandemic. While doctors and nurses fulfill the same role in healthcare, they often juxtapose each other. Doctors are used for acting as the role of a confident and cocky hero; meanwhile, nurses are more of a faint and dainty healthcare worker– like an angel that was sent from the heavens to help heal others. 

  Most nurses are portrayed as women– which was the only occupation women can have in the war. So, not only did nurses stand for joining the war efforts, but they also represented women joining the war effort as well. During World War I, posters– such as this one– often depicted women as an icon to get both men and women to join the war effort. For men, it would work simply because of pathos; it encouraged men to fight for their country. There is also a hint of ethos because it would depict beautiful women to get them involved– and it would work. And for women, it would empower them to join simply because they wanted to be like the woman on the poster– powerful and contributing to the war effort.

  Even though in real life, medical professionals are rightfully praised for their work– TV shows and movies attempt to dramatize serious and even life-or-death situations. TV shows such as House, Gray’s Anatomy, and Doctor Doctor shown here, depict doctors as arrogant, greedy, and sometimes rude to others below them; while the nurses are doing all of the hard work in the episode. By depicting medical professionals as young and beautiful; as well as adding large amounts of tension and suspense are used to make their jobs easier to understand and make it more entertaining to viewers.

  Nowadays, doctors and nurses both are equally portrayed as heroes. And dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic– healthcare workers are valued and praised now more than ever. There are many posters– such as the one above– that portray doctors as soldiers, fighting at the frontlines against the virus. The doctor stands in the middle– confident and strong– ready to protect the people; In addition, the “you” at the top connects the two people together. It is similar to posters from World War I in that it helps engage the audience to join in the efforts to stop a force. However, the context is different– as the intention isn’t to get more people to become doctors and nurses. Instead, it’s to get people to help the healthcare workers by taking charge of themselves. The doctors and nurses are to combat the virus– like protagonists in a story.

In conclusion, throughout history, doctors and nurses have been depicted similarly in being strong, sensible heroes in society; But also being separated from each other by gender and personality. Doctors and nurses have been used in the media for recognition as well as a call to action.



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