How 'Scrubs' Managed to Get So Many of Its Medical Storylines Right

Most medical shows these days are full of drama and intense moments. Rarely do they show the day-to-day experiences of medical life. However, one such show did just that, and it has been hailed as one of the most accurate medical TV shows of all time. 

The show Scrubs is known mostly as a comedy, and the characters can be quite goofy most of the time. According to Mental Floss, the majority of its medical stories were correct because the show consulted with real doctors.

What is ‘Scrubs’ about?

Scrubs first aired in 2001 for nine seasons, first on NBC, then it was picked up by ABC for its last two seasons, and ended in 2010. The show focuses on new doctor Jon Dorian, known as J.D, (Zach Braff). J.D. and his friends are starting their residencies at Sacred Heart hospital.

The show follows their life at work and their relationships with staff and patients. The show is unique in that it shares with viewers J.D.’s thoughts. Throughout the series, J.D. provides a voice-over on what he is thinking, and it often also shows his daydreams. Scrubs was nominated 135 times for numerous awards and won 33 of those awards. 

Real doctors helped the show be authentic

Real doctors reviewed the show’s scripts as a way to be as authentic as possible. One of these consultants was Dr. Jon Doris or J.D, and another was Jon Turk, like the characters.

Recently, EW reported that Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and Jon Doris are longtime friends who met while attending the college William and Mary. Lawrence did base the show and the main character on his good friend. In addition to reviewing the scripts, Doris also helped the actors understand and pronounce the medical jargon and procedures.

Doris said: “When I first saw that the character was named after me, and then I saw the pilot, I was hoping that my patients wouldn’t put two and two together.” Doris also made an appearance on the show. At the end of the first series finale, Doris is one of the doctors Braff walks past in the hallway.

Slate also noted that Lawrence used Doris’ real-life experiences in the show with some minor tweaks. For instance, early in Doris’ residency, he hid in a closet to avoid being the first doctor on the scene, which the fictional J.D. also does in the show.

Lawrence also had his writers’ interview, five doctors, before the start of every season as a way to collect story ideas. Currently, Jon Doris works in Cardiology/ Electrophysiology with Kaiser Permanente. He is also working at a COVID-19 command center in Los Angeles. 

What other doctors and nurses think of ‘Scrubs’

Insider asked real doctors and nurses to rate medical shows on their accuracy. Shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Nip Tuck were given low scores, but doctors and nurses gave Scrubs a high score for its authenticity.

In addition to the medical cases and jargon being authentic, the doctors and nurses also felt the show realistically depicts what it’s like to be a resident and new doctor and what really happens in a hospital on a day-to-day basis, not just in dramatic emergencies.

A couple of doctors said they could relate to J.D.’s inner monologue and self-reflection. In addition to this, Scrubs humanized the characters and also showed their relationships with various staff. It also depicts more than one profession within the hospitals, like administration, nurses, and surgeons.

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