7 Scripted & Unscripted Programs That Highlight Frontline Workers

Lenox Hill Netflix Docuseries Trailer
Courtesy of Netflix

Frontline workers and hospital staff have gained global attention and appreciation for their contributions and work to the coronavirus relief effort.

On top of this, scripted and other shows have done a great job in providing some perspective on the experiences of hospital workers and other frontline responders and what it means to be in their occupation.

From documentaries like Lenox Hill—which is releasing a special “Pandemic” episode on June 24—to TV shows like ER, here are seven programs to watch that highlight the lives of frontline workers and healthcare professionals.

Lenox Hill Mirtha Macri Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

Lenox Hill

The Netflix docuseries focuses on the workers that save lives at the New York City hospital. Lenox Hill’s drama doesn’t come from hypothetical scenarios that writers create; this is the real thing. It details the emotional toll of healthcare workers, the chaos still present at a properly funded and staffed hospital, and the troubles that arise from the American healthcare system. Step into the shoes of Lenox Hill hospital workers and what they go through on the frontlines. (Streaming now on Netflix)

Scrubs - Sarah Chalke, Zach Braff, and Donald Faison
Courtesy of NBC/Getty Images


Although a workplace comedy, this NBC-ABC show does a great job depicting relatable experiences of what it is like to be a doctor. While many hospital programs try to use what occurs in emergency situations to demand viewers’ attention, Scrubs capitalizes on the day-to-day in the life of a healthcare worker. (Streaming now on Hulu)

Extremis Netflix Documentary
Dan Krauss/Netflix


This 2016 Netflix short documentary tackles something hospital workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic encounter everyday: end of life care. Extremis follows a California hospital’s ICU department, where a doctor is tasked with helping terminally ill patients and their families navigate end of life decisions and care. At only 24 minutes long, this film displays the emotional toll that comes with being in the position of these doctors. (Streaming now on Netflix)

ER, Season 4 - Alex Kingston, Laura Innes, Eriq LaSalle, George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Reuben, Noah Wyle, Maria Bello
© NBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection


NBC’s classic hospital drama ran 15 seasons, and its realistic elements puts the challenges of working in emergency surgery on display. ER paved the way for the future of hospital and doctor themed shows, influencing entertainment and aspiring healthcare professionals alike. (Streaming now on Hulu)


The White Helmets

A different kind of frontline worker, this Netflix documentary showcases rescue workers in Syria and Turkey who risk their lives to save civilians affected by the violence of the Syrian civil war. Bombings and collapsed buildings are occupational hazards for these volunteers, and this film highlights the lives of these first responders in one of the most dangerous places in the world. (Streaming now on Netflix)

Nurse Jackie
David M. Russell/SHOWTIME

Nurse Jackie

Edie Falco’s character deals with balancing her nursing job and drug addiction in this Showtime series. It provides the audience with some perspective on issues that health workers face, such as problems in hospital staffing, and takes a look at dependence on drugs in nurses and healthcare professionals, which is a very real problem in the American health system. (Streaming now on Netflix)

House - Hugh Laurie, Jesse Spencer, Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison
Chris Haston / © FOX / courtesy everett collection


Fox’s medical mystery drama may have ended in 2012, but it still gives a great fictionalized look at the lives of diagnosticians. Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) and his team are constantly tasked with trying to figure out rare conditions that plague their patients. (Streaming now on Amazon Prime Video)