With over 50 years of experience as a scrub nurse, BokHee An brought a unique perspective to the set of “Grey’s Anatomy.” She spoke about what the show got right about the medical profession, and how she balanced working full-time while simultaneously filming.
How similar is your role portraying a nurse on “Grey’s Anatomy” to your work as an actual scrub nurse in Los Angeles?
I have been a scrub nurse for almost all my life. Being on “Grey’s Anatomy” there are similarities, but of course many differences. In real life, we don’t iron our surgical gowns for wrinkles, and we always wear eye protection. I have been fortunate to work in many kinds of operating rooms with many different surgeons. The variety of the show and the types of cases can be more exciting than real life.
What are some challenges you have faced in real life that might not be portrayed on “Grey’s Anatomy”?
The accurate representation of nurses in the show is important because we are the ones who help run the medical system. We are an integral part of the medical team. One of the major challenges I’ve faced is having a heavy accent behind the mask. Between my accent and being an Asian woman, I felt I had many barriers at the beginning of my career. I made sure to always follow the case and never make a mistake so I could prove surgeons wrong when assumptions were made about me.
Are there other medical professionals on set besides yourself? What are some ways you aid in ensuring the authenticity of a hospital setting while filming?
There is an entire team of medical professionals who help with the accuracy of the show from writing to production. Linda Klein, who I have known for over 40 years, has been helping the show since it started. Dr. Michael Metzner is also a physician on the team. I specifically come onto set for surgical scenes and will help set up the back table and make sure our actors look as realistic as possible by providing them with the correct instruments.
How were you able to balance your time and energy, working on surgeries in Los Angeles, all while filming on set?
I am retired now after working in the operating room for over 50 years. I retired 5 years ago, but when I was working there and on the show, I would do a 12-hour shift at the hospital and then come into the show on my day off. I never thought it was challenging with the long hours and really always enjoyed my time on set.
What is something you hope your fans will take away when they come across your Instagram page, @thebokheean?
My social media sprouted from when fans called me Queen BokHee. I find it so funny that so many people want to follow me on Instagram. I want to show people that working in the medical industry is fun and rewarding, but also hard. I hope to inspire others to enter the field and always remember that if someone on the healthcare team is not nice, be your best. At the end of the day, you are always there to help your patients.