10 Healthcare Documentaries You Have to Watch Right Now

Typically, I prioritize outdoor time in the summer. Whether perched in a chair on my front porch, lounging by the pool, or jogging the path around my neighborhood, I simply love to be outside. Except this month. Temperatures in Tennessee this summer have been stifling, the added humidity makes outdoor activity intolerable. So, I’ve reverted indoors to the AC. If you find yourself in a similar situation, pass the time on your couch with purpose. We’ve compiled a list of healthcare documentaries that are educational, emotional, and just plain interesting for nurse practitioners to pass the time. 

1. Code Black 

Code Black tells the story of residents and physicians inside hospital emergency departments in Los Angeles. While the film certainly gets a bit dramatic at times, the account of life in the emergency department is overall spot on. Code Black depicts the camaraderie, unpredictability, and challenges faced by emergency medical providers. A word of warning – the film may his a little too close to home for some NPs.


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2. Finders Keepers

If you’re looking for a quirky story, Finders Keepers can deliver. The flick relates the account of a man who discovered a human foot in a grill he purchased at a North Carolina auction. But, how did it get there? The film tells the poignant story behind the severed leg, and the unbelievable custody battle over the appendage. It may be a bit of a stretch, but as a nurse practitioner, the documentary reminds us there’s a story behind every patient.


3. Escape Fire: The Fight to Save American Healthcare

It’s no secret that the American healthcare system is broken. Escape Fire explores the reason behind the brokenness, with plenty of perspective from frustrated medical providers. While the situation seems dire, the film also shows companies and facilities that have stepped out with small successes at reversing the trend shedding light on solutions.


4. How to Survive a Plague

How to Survive a Plague tells the often overlooked story of the men and women who successfully reversed an epidemic, and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence, in the face of a fearful public.


5. Living in Emergency: Doctors Without Borders

Renowned for providing medical care on the front lines, in face of disaster and conflict, Doctors Without Borders gives a documentary crew uncensored access to its field operations. Set in the war-torn countries of Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the film follows four physicians as they provide healthcare in extreme conditions.


6. The Sacred Science

The Amazon is touted for its variety of vegetation containing potential cures for chronic and terminal disease. Suffering from conditions ranging from Parkinson’s to prostate cancer and diabetes, this documentary follows eight patients who journey to the Amazon seeking cures from indigenous medicine men.


7. “Up/Down” Bipolar Disorder Documentary

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of your patients with psychiatric diagnoses? Up/Down offers firsthand accounts and insight into the minds of individuals living with bipolar disorder.


8. The English Surgeon

Henry Thomas Marsh is a leading British neurosurgeon, and pioneer of neurosurgical advances. Driven by the need to help others, Marsh travels repeatedly to Ukraine to improve upon the rudimentary surgical techniques he witnessed there. The English Surgeon follows Marsh as he confronts the dilemmas of the doctor-patient relationship, and the gravity of operating on the body’s most complex organ.


9. The Vaccine War

If there’s one thing parents have strong opinions about, it’s vaccines. As measles epidemics begin to reemerge, the debate over vaccines is heating up. Should parents have the right to make choices about immunizing their children?


10. DOCS: Superhuman – World’s Tallest Children

Many parents believe their kids won’t stop growing. But, for these children it’s actually the case. Meet the world’s tallest children. And, if you’ve got a penchant for the unusual, check out other videos in the DOCS Superhuman series, like this one about geniuses, or this one about a girl who cries blood.


What are your favorite health related documentaries?


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