About the Job

Becoming a “Hollywood” Nurse

Want to become a glamorous nurse in Hollywood? Here's how.

Becoming a “Hollywood” Nurse

There are so many opportunities available for someone with a nursing degree and license. Many different industries call for nurses. You don’t have to work in a hospital, clinic or nursing home. You can be a traveling nurse, a home-health nurse, or any other type of nurse that sounds wonderful to you. But ever thought about being a glamorous Hollywood nurse?

What about being a nurse specialist that consults with writers for TV and film about nursing and the medical field? You can also be a set nurse for those in the cast and crew. Actors and staff always seem to be getting hurt or sick and need a nurse to comfort and take care of their wounds and injuries.

Medical script nurse

There are many medical dramas and comedies on networks and cable TV. "The Good Doctor," "House M.D," "Grey’s Anatomy," "Chicago Med," and "Scrubs" are only a few of the medical shows that have huge audiences.

Medical script nurses are consultants to TV and film writers. They research and ensure the accuracy of plots featuring nurses in plots and characters.

If false information or imprecise medical portrayals go out over the airwaves, it hurts the credibility and integrity of a program. It also gives negative consequences for the nursing profession. Misinformation can also cause viewers to rethink the medical profession, as well as the featured diseases and treatments.

As unlikely as it may seem, some viewers watch medical TV shows to get information on diseases they think they have. They believe what they see on TV and often forgo diagnosis in favor what the nurse or doctor just did in the show. Silly, yes, but people have watched "House" and felt he was always right. There have been situations where patients actually looked for Dr. House in a hospital and refused treatment from anyone else.

Script consultant nurses work next to TV and film creators to give them active scenarios and to fact check stories. These nurses draw from their medical knowledge and real-life stories to make a program more realistic.

Script consultant nurses meet with a writer at the beginning of a story development and help provide real context about the characters or settings that are being created. They might be “on call” as questions come up during writing. Script consultant nurses are often asked to look at final scripts to spot inaccuracies or add suggestions and realism.

Questions that always come up involve procedures, medical terminology, equipment usage, and even relationship dynamics between nurses and doctors and nurses and staff. There are always questions on nurse-patient dynamics.

A medical script consultant nurse must be able to have a measure of creative license, communicate what they know and stay available when questions arise. Writers work on tight deadlines and being able to consult at a moment’s notice is essential. You will be very valuable as a script consultant nurse if you can give feedback quickly. You can always be guaranteed repeat business if you are good at your job.

Nurses that work on sets

Film sets are technical, small cities with huge crews and actors. On-site medical staff is critical in helping productions run smoothly.

Scenes in action movies get brutal and dangerous. There are times when special effects go wrong. Set nurses are called on to give first aid and render first responses. In remote locations, a nurse is often required to provide more advanced, life-saving care.

For example, look at Tom Cruise in his last movie. He broke his leg jumping from one building to the next. (No, it was not a stunt actor, but the real Tom Cruise). He jumped up and kept filming, but how would you have liked being the nurse who scolded him, took care of his leg, and bundled him off to the hospital?

Not only do set nurses get to work on TV and movie sets, but they also work events like concerts and award shows.

Working as a set nurse sounds glamorous, but the level of care and practice can be annoying and tedious. You often only use your skills in first aid if you use any skills at all. You may just sit around the set hoping for a medical emergency.Then, you will get a break and find an exciting event that needs your expert skills. Being a set nurse may also open other doors to nursing jobs that might be more to your liking.

Years ago a set nurse was taking care of a more mature actor when he turned to her and offered her a job as his personal nurse. She ended up traveling all over the world and made buckets of money.

Just think of the opportunity to hang out with celebrities and get a behind the scenes look at a movie while it’s being filmed. Maybe providing first aid is not so tedious after all.

Becoming a script nurse

Positions for script nurses aren’t usually listed on healthcare nursing boards. You may need to look through the entertainment industry listings and register with a nurse recruiter who specializes in script nurses.

Find a connection with those in the writing and creative community, or if you happen to live in Los Angeles or any other area with Hollywood related connections, you might be able to land that cushy script nursing-consultant job. It’s often not what you know but who you know.

If you can find a scriptwriter who will work with you remotely, that would be awesome, too.

It is usually easier to find employment as a set nurse than as a script nurse. There are many event medical services agencies around. Do note, however, that the pay isn’t nearly as good as a traditional nursing position, but the perks can be awesome.

What you will earn

Your services as a nurse are worth tons of money, but what you can make in the film and entertainment industry varies. Script nurses will negotiate their wages, and this can either be an hourly or project fee. Don’t sell yourself short. Your time, expertise and knowledge is your value. Go high when asked what your rate is.

Set nurse are paid quite poorly. Rosie only pays her nurses $15 per hour or $100 per day. A nurse in a hospital can make more than double that amount.

Entertainment nursing jobs are freelance or side work. You shouldn’t expect to quit your day or salaried job to make a career out of the medical script or on-set nursing. These types of nursing jobs are usually more in the line of exciting ways to make some extra income.

But, hey, you may find the love of your life in an action star or become the next nurse on a TV series. The sky is the limit. Keep your mind open and be reasonable when opportunities are handed to you.