Big Hero 6, starring a nurse, tears of sad and tears of happy.


I don’t advise anyone to have children (period, cause that’s none of my business) but if I did my first pro argument would be the super children’s movies out there. This week we took my son to see Big Hero 6. It was the greatest. Baymax the robot, main character, IS A NURSE and the best thing to happen to nursing since Flo hit the Crimea. That might be an exaggeration. Baymax assesses his patient, provides excellent pain control, recommends evidence based treatment, does education, and is unable to deactivate until his patient states that they are satisfied with their care. He also wields the defibrillator with his own two stubs (no hands), a tip off that it’s your RN and not your MD who is most likely to analyze your cardiac arrest and defibrillate.

The writers make Baymax a nurse and not a doctor. Not what we’re used to seeing, right? The movie takes place in futuristic San Fransokyo where there is a melding of American and Pan-Asian culture (similar to Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story). Over the years I’ve heard of the looming caregiver shortage in Japan. I dug up this 2009 NPR piece about robot caregivers for the elderly. So, naturally, I’m thinking this movie with it Manga-ish style about robot caregivers has got to have roots in Japan. This is the best I could come up with on my internet search: the movie is “loosely based” on a Japanese comic strip of the same name. By way of Marvel, by way of Disney. I looked into Japanese nursing to see what they might be doing differently to achieve a public image that is more congruent with the work we do than anything we see in American media. From my cursory glance it appears the title of nurse requires more education (for RN min two years in America, min 3-4 in Japan). Also, public health nurses and midwives have much more defined roles and are a feature of the daily lives of citizens. Nurses are decoupled from the elbows of doctors–true in American practice as well, but not as visible.

If we want to be Eeyores about it, we can see this movie as another in a long line where jobs of less value are relegated to robots (WALL-E, Star Wars, help me out nerds…). Okay, maybe. BUT in his last act which I will not spoil because if you have a heart in your chest it will make you cry, I would argue that Baymax is sentient, nulling that sad hypothesis. He is a nurse super hero movie star. AND THE PEOPLE (well, just me) IN THE MOVIE THEATER REJOICED!

This was a great movie to see with my kid for 10,000 reasons. So have kids or not but see this movie. Then you better recognize that this nurse right here is an autonomous and patient-centered ass-kicking machine.


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