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All Fun & Satire

When a medical drama inspires an academic U-turn

By Mahta Jan

It was a cold, snowy December night. I threw myself face-first into the couch as soon as I got home from the last day of the winter semester, ignoring how many butts had probably been where my nose was touching.

I was knee-deep in coursework for my architecture degree, feeling frustrated with the endless architectural history courses and questioning every choice that had led me there. I couldn’t help but feel like a potato in a salad—utterly out of place and entirely unsure of how I got there. 

Eventually, I turned on my laptop and decided to indulge in the sweet escapism of Netflix to make me feel better instead of dealing with reality. That’s when I stumbled upon the show Grey’s Anatomy. You know, that medical drama that makes every viewer think they would be able to perform brain surgery in their sleep? Yeah, that one. 

“Just one episode,” I told myself almost nonchalantly. Little did I know this decision would lead me down a medical rabbit hole far deeper than the show’s relentless cliffhangers. The drama! The fancy medical terms! The soundtrack! 

Suddenly, one episode became two, then six and then 22. Eventually, I found myself compulsively clicking ‘play next episode’ like there was no tomorrow. 

I became so immersed in the drama and excitement of the medical world that I temporarily forgot about the tangled mess of my own academic stresses. All of a sudden, I was in Seattle, scrubbing in on cardiothoracic surgeries and engaging in witty banter with my hot and fictional colleagues. 

Truly, who has time to worry about enrolling in architectural design courses when you can park yourself on a couch with a bowl of cheesy nachos and try to figure out how McDreamy will propose to Meredith?

As I watched the show’s impossibly gorgeous doctors dramatically navigate the corridors of the hospital, perform extraordinary life-saving surgeries and form steamy relationships, I could feel something stirring within me. 

The characters on the screen were basically living proof that any ordinary person could morph into a medical superhero with just the right amount of determination and an overdramatic soundtrack in the background. 

Besides, I was tired of the ceaseless cycle of classes and assignments that seemed to lead nowhere. I knew I had to make a change. 

“I could totally be a doctor!” I proclaimed to my dog, who gave me a disinterested yawn in response.

“It’s about time we have a doctor in the family!” My mother responded from the other room. Pfft. 

“Where the hell was my McDreamy?”

I immediately started googling how to become a surgeon because obviously, medical school is just as glamorous and dramatic as TV makes it seem, right? 

I was convinced I’d be the next Meredith Grey. 

So there my journey began. Before I knew it, I had started my degree in biomedical science, volunteered at a hospital and even practiced suturing fruits by following YouTube videos online. My grapefruit stitches had never looked better! 

I was sure I was on the road to success…until reality slapped me in the face like a wet surgical glove. Much like an unexpected plot twist in the actual show. 

Organic chemistry became my worst enemy and the very sight of blood made me squeamish. Studying medicine was a lot less scandalous than I thought. Also, where the hell was my McDreamy??

For the first time in months, scalpel in hand, I questioned whether this inspiration was derived from a genuine calling or another of my passing obsessions.

While I admired the fictional surgeons for their quick thinking and steady hands in high-stakes operating scenarios, I found myself more drawn to a different aspect of the medical world. 

In the midst of my biology labs, I discovered that I did in fact have a knack for science. Even if it wasn’t what I had initially found so interesting—thanks to Netflix—I found that I actually liked conducting my own scientific experiments. The best part? Not dealing with blood or patients. 

Alas, I ended up ditching the idea of four years of medical school—or architecture for that matter––and dove headfirst into four years of pursuing a PhD in science instead. 

Huh, I guess my dream of becoming a doctor might still come true, just not in the way I had expected. This is the kind of twist even Shonda Rhimes would approve of!

At this point of my life, it’s comical how things tend to work out for me. Maybe you should watch Grey’s Anatomy and become a doctor like I did—no scalpel required! Even if there are no handsome surgeons involved. 

So here I am, no longer the salad potato I once was—or at least that’s what I tell myself between my Netflix marathons. I can’t help but chuckle at the thought of my next potential infatuation and where that might lead. 

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