Last week, I was nestled in the depths of Bass Library doing “work,” by which I mean eating Peanut M&M’s and figuring out which readings for the next morning’s class I could get away with not doing. Around the corner, I heard a conversation between some students complaining about the workload for their chemistry class. I was a bit bothered by their volume but it wasn’t until one of them said that “the pre-med track is killer, I should’ve just settled with watching a little ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and done a different major” that I became alarmed. Settled? For “Grey’s Anatomy”?
I realized at that moment that Yale pre-meds’ feelings of superiority over medical drama audiences had gone too far, so I instigated the following correspondence:
Dear Yale Pre-meds:
I feel comfortable calling myself a doctor. I know the steps to an appendectomy (or an appy, as doctors like me say), I know the proper locations for scalpel incision, I can find the aorta, I can insert a chest tube. I’ve learned to work under pressure, to keep my hands steady and to stay standing for 10 hours straight. I’m not just a doctor — I’m a good one.
I say this not because I’m on the pre-med track like you all, but because I’ve watched 16 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which I will argue is probably more important. I know you are all likely busy studying for your organic chemistry midterm, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
Grey’s begins after each protagonist has completed medical school and is ready to start their surgical residency at Seattle Grace Hospital. Just through watching the first few seasons of the show, I was able to experience the internship (first year of residency) experience first-hand. I was there when George O’Malley held a heart in a broken-down elevator, and when Meredith Grey held her hand in a man’s chest so that a bomb wouldn’t detonate — typical residency things. I felt their all-nighters, their stress and their competition.
I hate to break it to you all — and I know that this can be an uncomfortable conversation to have — but you are all simply college students. You may have fantasies in your head about being chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Johns Hopkins, but your “doctor” life at this point consists of memorizing names of proteins and polyatomic ions in your bedroom as you watch that biochem lecture you didn’t attend two weeks ago.
I know that you’re learning a lot about the human body in your classes, but you haven’t been in the field like I have. Season 17 premieres on Nov. 12. Hop on, or risk falling behind.
We aren’t completely sure why you decided to write us a letter, and we’re even less sure as to why we’re responding to you. Not only do we consider you to be a threat should you ever be around someone in need of medical help (please call 911, Owen), but “Grey’s Anatomy” is also riddled with medical inaccuracies and exists almost purely as a drama, not a source of education. You have no clue how to perform an appendectomy.
On a more personal note, Grey’s is just not a good show. All the main characters are, quite frankly, annoying, and the plot arc gets repetitive. Find a better show, please.
With warm regards,
I hope your orgo midterm went ok, although I’m guessing it didn’t, considering a happy person wouldn’t write such a passive aggressive letter — or is that just your pre-med personality? Anyway.
The Shonda Rhimes masterpiece that is “Grey’s Anatomy” has only lasted over 15 years because there is such a high demand for it — if it wasn’t popular, how could it be America’s longest-running medical drama? How could it rake in 39 Emmy nominations? So, let’s unpack your distaste for the show; do you dislike it because it’s popular? Are you quirky, and adamant that the shows you watch be “different” than the mainstream? I’m sorry you feel that way. You’re missing out.
Sure, some of the characters are annoying. But Cristina Yang — you’re going to insult Sandra Oh like that? Alex Karev may start the show off as a jerk, but over the course of 16 seasons he gradually grows into a sweet, empathetic division chief. Not sure about you all, but to me, that is an excellent plot arc.
In terms of me being a “threat” — who are you to say that? Let’s compare how we would each react to a dangerous situation. If the patient codes and requires CPR, you will do one of the following: recite a bunch of jargon and definitions you had to memorize for your chem final, email your professor for help or simply freeze. You haven’t experienced the time pressure required to react to these situations the way I have (as a reminder, I’ve gone through Season 9, so I can handle it).
Is the show not always 100 percent accurate? Sure. But the average for all of your last bio exam was what, a 65? There are no curves in the real world, sweetheart. I can promise you that the show is far more accurate than you are.
Screw your “warm regards.”
Nice to hear from you again. Your situation is no longer of interest to us.
Having binged a medical drama does not make you a doctor.
Have a wonderful day,
I appreciate your thoughtful reply, although it actually wasn’t thoughtful at all. I have some reminders for you all before you enter the world of medicine, because I’d hate for you to fuck it up:
Being a doctor requires the ability to build strong relationships with patients. As a Grey’s fan, I’ve seen Meredith get to know her patients so well she could likely recite to me their whole life story, and I’ve seen Alex create environments of rich mutual trust between him and the kids in the pediatrics wing. I’ve spent years watching these friendships unfold, to the point that I know I’d be able to cultivate similar ones. I am sympathetic and kind — if I were your doctor, I would make you feel at home.
You all, on the other hand, are a different story. As a patient of the Yale pre-med email service, I do not feel at home. I feel rejected and I feel looked down upon. You have not proved yourselves as warm-hearted doctors. In the words of Chief Webber in Season 1, “This is your starting line. This is your arena. How well you play? That’s up to you.”
How are you going to play?
I realize there might be an inclination on your part to reach back out to me for advice — I know you all want to be better doctors. But, despite my talent as a mentor, I cannot do that for you. To quote my favorite character on the show, Stephanie Edwards, “Deal with your jealousy. Deal with your shortcomings. Don’t put your crap on me.”
With that, you are on your own.
Best of luck,
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Owen Tucker-Smith | email@example.com