Nurses we love on the Big Screen

10 nurses we love on the big screen

Say "best nurse characters in the movies" and you'll probably hear Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” every time. But for this National Nurses Week, let's forget about the deranged and wily psychiatric nurse character who earned Louise Fletcher a 1976 Best Actress Oscar.

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Instead, gather friends and family (or at least your own tired self) and watch a movie you can enjoy that features nurses. Granted, except for the documentary mentioned, none of these nurses is particularly realistic (one nurses a man who can morph into a wolf, for example, while another lives happily ever after with a fabulously wealthy real estate mogul), but each of these nurse characters is enjoyable to watch: 

Nurse Betty

This 2000 comedy about a small-town waitress obsessed with a hospital-based soap opera earned Renée Zellweger a Golden Globe for best motion picture actress. And if you're a younger nurse, you may not believe that her co-stars were Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock.

Rent or buy from places like Google Play or iTunes starting at $3.99

» RELATED: Who was Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing?

The English Patient

A WWII saga with wonderful cinematography and the story of a fresh-faced nurse with the mission of tending to a man with a mysterious past after he is burned in a plane crash. This classy 1996 drama won nine Oscars. Watch it with that friend or spouse who's willing to deconstruct the movie afterwards.

Streams on Netflix and Hulu, among others, and you can also rent or buy

Meet the Parents

This was a fresh comedy when it was released in 2000, and your teens might love it for a Nurses Week family movie night. Its antihero Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) set the standard for male nurses in cinematic comedies. The amusing premise is that the man with the awkward name and the sketchy job description meets his girlfriend's parents and her extra-paranoid ex-CIA father takes it from there.

Rent or buy on Prime Video, Vudu and others starting at $3.99

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High Anxiety

Relax, all! While this 1977 movie starts out like a moody Hitchcock movie (let's not even think about who sutured those wounds in The Birds), but that's because it's a spoof. Mel Brooks is the mad genius behind this crazy story about madness among the staff at a psychiatric hospital.

Rent or buy at iTunes and others starting at $2.99

An American Werewolf in London

Need a laugh? Also need to shriek? This 1981 cult classic comedy-horror movie will let you do both without sacrificing the nurse theme. Nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) is very attractive and copes pretty well with a patient who who goes from flirty in one scene to werewolf in the next.

Stream free on Vudu or PopcornFlix or buy starting at $1.99

» RELATED: National Nurses Week 2019: Your go-to guide to freebies, deals

The American Nurse

This feature-length 2014 documentary from The American Nurse Project is powerful, following the story of five nurses from the book of the same name. Each one works with a different kind of patients, including maximum security prisoners, home health patients in Appalachia, soldiers coming home from war, women giving birth and end-of-life patients. If you're not the type to relax and watch a movie strictly for entertainment and want to support nurse education scholarships, this movie is perfect. 

Available as a digital download and on DVD and any nurse who watches can earn CE credits through Walden University


A favorite of the staff writers and an adaptation from a Pulitzer-Prize winning play, this 2001 film focuses on an English professor having a profound experience after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Nurse Susie Monahan (Audra McDonald) must push back - and experience a catharsis of her own - when the physicians treating the professor push an experimental treatment. Susie may have a 50s-nurse name, but she's a rock solid portrayal of the compassionate modern-day nurse.

Watch on HBO

Anything for Love

A ridiculously attractive (and wealthy) real estate mogul tries to escape the burdens of that descriptor by lying about her job on a dating profile. She meets a great guy with a secret of his own - a pediatric RN whose bestie thought he'd do better in the match game if his profile said doctor. Will they reveal their true careers before the attraction fizzles and they lose their chance at love? Why yes, this 2016 romance is a Hallmark movie, but maybe you should relax and watch something sweet and predictable during National Nurse's Week.

Watch on Hallmark's TV Everywhere or buy from Vudu, FandangoNOW and others starting at $7


If you've already gotten enough sleep for the next night or two (ha ha ha ha) and don't have young kids who want to watch with you, try this 2005 thriller about a plucky nurse battling evil. It's a shudder a minute as she goes to work in a falling-apart maternity ward and soon becomes all that's standing between her young patients and a malicious force that manifests as a girl strapped into an old-school medical device.

Stream on Prime Video or buy starting at $9.99

The Nun's Story

If you adored Audrey Hepburn and her 50s glam in classics like Sabrina and Breakfast At Tiffany's, this 1959 drama is gonna surprise you. Hepburn plays a woman from a rich Belgian family who becomes a nursing nun during World War II. Like all nurses, she faces crisis, heartbreak and some moral dilemmas.

Rent or buy at FandangoNOW and others starting at $2.99

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