Nurses are the unsung heroines of the big screen. They don’t receive as much praise (or screen time) as the doctors, but in many ways, they’re more memorable on camera. Not just because of their appearance but also because their behavior is less regimented than doctors, which leave both the screenwriter and the director with a greater license to imbue their character with interesting traits.
Here are a few of the best nurse characters on film.
Evelyn Johnson (Pearl Harbor)
The big event picture that year, the movie Pearl Harbor starred big names like Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin, but many of the ladies stole the show early on. A young Kate Beckinsale played a nurse, Evelyn Johnson, a naval nurse during the troubled times of World War II.
Her British accent switched out for a reliable American one, she managed to imbue this blockbuster movie with a big heart and ample emotion to go along with the explosive action and set pieces.
Greg Focker (Meet the Parents)
The first in a series of films, Meet the Parents was a surprise comedy hit for Ben Stiller who played Nurse Greg Focker dealing with Robert De Niro’s paranoid former CIA father-in-law. The film plays with plenty of stereotypes with one notable scene where Greg comes clean at a dinner that he’s a male nurse. In between funny scenes, including one where De Niro puts Stiller’s nurse through a lie detector test, the movie ended up being a boon for male nurses everywhere.
Annie Wilkes (Misery)
Kathy Bates played Annie Wilkes in Misery, based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. As an ever-so-slightly obsessed fan of novelist Paul Sheldon’s writing, she proceeds to encourage him to bring a previously killed off character back to life. Full of painfully real close-ups of Nurse Wilkes at her most persuasive; be sure to enjoy this movie while trying to remember to breathe. Novelist King at his best here. No one wants a nurse like Annie Wilkes.
Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
An oldie but a goodie. Voted the fifth worst villain in the history of movies (American Film Institute) and preserved in the US Library of Congress due to its significance, Louise Fletcher played the head nurse on the ward. In between Jack Nicholson’s theatrical performance and the lunatics in the insane asylum, Nurse Ratched wielded her power with an iron fist. Rather than offering a kind word and a tender touch, this nurse demanded complete control over her dominion. Enough to scare anyone crazy!
Ready to Try the Real Thing?
There are a few online doctoral nursing programs that provide the opportunity to advance in a nursing career. The DNP programs online accredited from Regis College offer a way for kind hearted, smart individuals to grow in their nursing role. As the educational training behind the nursing profession moves from a master’s degree as a prerequisite to a doctorate as a prerequisite, nurse to doctorate educational programs provides a way to transition.
Whether you’re just interested in enjoying movies with the occasional kind nurse in them or you have a vested interested in a nursing career, one thing is for certain: the life of a nurse is never dull.