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12 Powerful Medical Documentaries You Should Watch

As a medical professional, it’s essential to stay up to date and informed about the latest technology and procedures. While we can certainly get all that information from books, it can be refreshing to catch a powerful and insightful documentary that represents the reality of medicine. Read on to find out the most influential medical documentaries out there, and learn how to find more yourself.

Must-see medical documentaries

1. Code Black

Code Black is an American documentary that follows the physicians working at Los Angeles County Hospital (USA’s busiest emergency room), and how they deal and face with healthcare treatment in the modern world. The documentary centres heavily both in doctors and the patients.

2. 24 Hours in A&E

This documentary follows a trauma response team in a central London hospital, showcasing emergencies ranging from traffic accidents to heart attacks. Each story is extensively told — even featuring interviews to family members and loved ones of the patients. The main focus of 24 Hours in A&E is to show how people react in those critical and stressful first response moments.

3. The English Surgeon

Set in a Ukrainian hospital, The English Surgeon follows British neuroscientist Henry Marsh and Ukrainian physician Igor Kurilets — and how they manage to do their job in rural Ukraine, lacking the necessary and cutting-edge equipment, and facing the intense ethical issues that come with working in those particular circumstances. The film especially centres around Marsh removing a risky brain tumour.

4. Miss Sharon Jones!

This documentary follows American singer performer Sharon Jones’ pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2013 — and allows an up-close look into dealing with cancer, and how the disease affects so many people, well beyond the sufferer. Warm the popcorn and get comfortable on the couch for this fascinating film.

5. An Hour To Save Your Life

The attention and medical treatment a patient receives within the first hour of being hurt is crucial in order to increase their odds of recovering, and that’s what this BBC documentary centres on.

6. The Waiting Room

This documentary follows the staff and patients at Highland Hospital in California that serves low-income, uninsured patients. The Waiting Room’s mission is to show the reality of helping patients that are struggling, both financially and medically.

7. Sicko

10-year-old Sicko shows the reality of the American health care system, reflecting on the haves and have-nots — and how those truths shape a person’s access to treatment. The documentary also compares the American healthcare system to other countries — a great film if you wish to learn the differences between the Australian and the American healthcare system.

8. One Born Every Minute

While being pregnant and giving birth sounds like an ordinary ordeal, we actually don’t know much about the reality and risks of it. One Born Every Minute provides an honest take on motherhood, mums-to-be, and midwives in the UK.

9. Forgotten Plague

Forgotten Plague revolves around Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers — a little-recognised condition, frowned upon by many medical communities — and how the patients fight for more research on the disease.

10. The Body in Question

An oldie but a goodie, and probably remembered as the first documentary that ever filmed a live autopsy, The Body in Question was produced in the 70’s and deals with the idea of health, life, sickness and what it means to live in our own bodies.

11. Miracle Hospital 2

Miracle Hospital 2 showcases the Australian healthcare industry, and shows medical teams at St Vincent’s Hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne using the latest science and technology to perform ground-breaking and life-saving procedures.

12. Medicine and What Matters in the End

While not a documentary, Medicine and What Matters in the End is a 2014 book written by Atul Gawande (a Harvard University professor of surgery and public health in the United States) that’s definitely worth reading. It’s mainly an honest take on the hardest side of medicine, death; and how medical professionals are affected when facing it daily.

How to find instructional documentaries

1. UQ Library, from the University of Queensland

You can also find additional resources and more updated documentaries through the digital library of the University of Queensland. You can search by entering the documentary’s title, director, producer, writer, or cast. Alternatively, if you aren’t looking for any film in particular and just want to browse all the medical documentaries they have on offer, click here.

2. Informit EduTV

Informit EduTV provides comprehensive content across a wide array of learning areas, including the medical field. It is an essential resource for teaching and learning, and its regularly-updated content features documentaries, drama, series, and more — including archives of programs dating back to 2006.

3. Anatomy.tv

Anatomy.tv is a top-notch medical software, that features the most exact and detailed 3D models of the human body online — covering the anatomy of every region of the body, including muscle function, injuries, structure, dissections, and more. You’ll need to purchase a subscription package in order to access the software though.

Learn more about medical innovation

The healthcare industry is constantly changing and reinventing itself. That’s why physicians never stop studying or learning — being on top of the changes is a must. Whether you like to learn more about medical innovation and breakthroughs, or the financial issues that affect the industry, we hope you watch these documentaries to increase your knowledge on the matter.

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