National Nurses Day – Eight Great Movies Featuring Nurses

In honor of Nurses Week, May 6 – 12, 2022, we have compiled a list of movies featuring a variety of nurse personalities….some funny, some dreamy, others realistic and lovable. For Nurses Week this year, make sure the nurses in your life know that you see them and acknowledge what they do.  There is nothing a nurse appreciates more than having someone they love really recognize the work they do and the sacrifices they often have to make.

Florence Nightingale (1985)

Jaclyn Smith plays Florence Nightingale and shows how the “Lady with the Lamp” became one of the most significant advocates of cleanliness and sanitation for the nursing profession. This film, based on her life, illustrates how she volunteered to care for the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, and faced great opposition for her approach to nursing. Through her perseverance, she reformed hospital sanitation and helped define the nursing profession as we know it today.

The English Patient (1996)

In this romantic film, set in Italy during World War II, Hana (Juliette Binoche) is a nurse who is taking care of a man with severe burns, Laszlo (Ralph Fiennes). Laszlo’s past is revealed through flashbacks where we see his love affair with a married Englishwoman (Kristin Scott Thomas), and his work mapping the African landscape. Based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje, the story is told in revelations of Laszlo’s actions prior to his injuries, and the emotional effect these stories have on the other characters around him.

The American Nurse (2014)

This powerful documentary follows the story of five nurses from the book of the same name. Each nurse works with a different type of patient, including maximum-security prisoners, home health patients in Appalachia, soldiers coming home from war, women giving birth, and end-of-life patients. If you want to see what nursing is really all about, this movie is for you.

The Hospital (1971)

Herbert Bock (George C. Scott) is the chief of medicine in a New York City teaching hospital. He is considering suicide because his life is falling apart. In the meantime, his hospital is also falling apart with unexplained deaths in his midst. This movie also includes a romantic story line with Barbara (Diana Rigg) who helps restore Dr. Bock’s will to live. This is a dark, satirical, fun film that shows life inside a (fictional) 1970s hospital with chaos all around.

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Against the backdrop of World War I, this love story is both romantic and tragic. In this first adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s classic, British nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), and American ambulance driver Frederic, an Italian Army officer (Gary Cooper), fall in love while working at a hospital in Italy.

Meet the Parents (2000)

Portrayals of nurses are often limited to women, but not in this gem of a film.  In Meet the Parents, Greg (Ben Stiller), is a “male nurse” on his first visit to his girlfriend’s (Teri Polo) parents’ house, which turns out to be more of a (hilarious) nightmare than he could have ever imagined.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Based on real historical events, this film follows American childhood friends Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) as they join World War II as pilots. A love triangle ensues as Rafe returns from Europe to find his best friend and his girlfriend (Kate Beckinsale) have comforted one another in his absence. The three of them reunite in Hawaii just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Wit (2001)

Vivian (Emma Thompson) is a demanding English literature professor who has spent much of her life focusing on religion and death as it relates to her studies. When she is diagnosed with cancer, an experimental and aggressive procedure is recommended. Nurse Susie (Audra McDonald) steps into the picture as the patient deals with the effects of the treatment, contemplates her life’s work and expresses her final wishes.

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

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