HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Doctors' Diaries on NOVA

The PBS program, NOVA, has a new show tracing the lives of medical school students and later doctors as they begin to practice medicine.  Here is the program note: 

In 1987, NOVA's cameras began rolling to chronicle the lives of seven young, bright medical students embarking on the longest and most rigorous endeavor in higher education: the years-long journey to become a doctor. From their first days at Harvard Medical School to the present day, none of them could have predicted what it would take, personally and professionally.

In "Doctors' Diaries," a two-part special, NOVA returns to find out what sort of doctors—and people—the seven young students have become. The program is the latest installment in the longest-running U.S. documentary of its kind.

The first hour of "Doctors' Diaries" begins by reuniting the physicians on the steps of Harvard Medical School 17 years after graduation. Footage from the previous four installments in the series offers a rare and candid look at the rewards and personal sacrifices each has made over the last two decades—from the stress of medical-school exams, to the first cut into a cadaver, through first wedding ceremonies (and sometimes second or third), internship, residency, and life as a certified M.D.

"Doctors' Diaries" is filled with personal insights offering raw perspectives on the medical profession. "First-year medical school is absolutely something that one cannot be emotionally prepared for," says Tom Tarter, in footage from the past. "This has been the most emotionally trying period of my life ... I can't remember crying until last week."

Today, Tarter is a board-certified emergency physician. All but one of the seven subjects are still practicing medicine, and although they each chose different specialties—from cardiology to anesthesiology, ophthalmology to psychiatry—all share the distinct privileges and demands of dealing with matters of life and death. (For more about the choices doctors have to make, see The Hippocratic Oath Today and M.D. Specialties.)

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