Doctors’ Diaries: 7 Doctors, 21 Years; Saving Lives Is Only Part of the Story


About the Film

Over the past 21 years, NOVA has followed a group of seven doctors from their first day at Harvard Medical School in 1987. All young, bright, and accomplished, none of them could have predicted what it would take, personally and professionally, to become a member of the medical tribe. NOVA’s cameras have been there through the difficult years of classes and clinical training, internship and residency, marriage and divorce–documenting the trials and tribulations as these individuals struggled to become doctors and balance time at work and at home. Candid, in-depth interviews have given viewers a real sense of what each person has to deal with day in and day out since they made the decision to practice medicine. To watch the whole series online, visit:

About the Filmmaker

In my late teens, when I was trying to decide what to do with my life, two passions surfaced almost simultaneously: moviemaking and medicine. In my early 30s, when I hit a particularly bad patch in the film business, I reapplied to medical school. In 2001, when the fourth installment of the doctors series aired, I wrote, “Making this series of films about medical training has made me realize how fortunate I was to be turned down!”

My view has changed. Although the price is high in terms of the time given over to medical training, it is nevertheless an extraordinary journey, and the relationship that it eventually permits physicians to have with patients is the most wonderful gift. When I think about the path not taken in my own life, I’m reminded of what Jay said to me about whether he would choose to go to medical school if he had a chance to do it over again: “I’m glad I don’t have to consider that. I mean, one can’t live one’s life over; it’s just not done.” But if it were possible to press rewind, my medical school application campaign would be a lot more organized than it was 30 years ago. – Michael Barnes

To read more about Michael’s essay “The Producer’s Story: Joining the Medical Tribe — in Time-Lapse,” visit:

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