Film Club: ‘Broken Heart Doctor’

Film Club: ‘Broken Heart Doctor’

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What can we learn from heartache and suffering?

“Broken Heart Doctor” is a two-minute animated film that touches on themes of love, loss and wisdom. It profiles a young doctor who works in the cardiology unit of a children’s hospital while coping with a heartbreaking breakup with his longtime girlfriend. In this setting, among children with cancer and other maladies, it is the doctor who learns from his patients how to heal.


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: What can we learn from heartache and suffering?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

6. To learn more, read “Nursing a Wound in an Appropriate Setting,” the 2013 Modern Love essay by Thomas Hooven that this week’s short film is based upon. The essay begins:

I started my pediatrics residency on the cardiology unit, which was appropriate: my heart had a giant hole in it. Just after I graduated from medical school, as I was moving into my fiancée’s New York apartment, she ended our relationship. We went out to dinner that night, and after we came home, she told me we were through.

She and I had been together 12 years, engaged for two; we had a wedding planned for three weeks later.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” I said from the edge of her bed.

“I know we’ll always be best of friends,” she said.

I left just after sunrise, suitcase in hand, feeling as if I had just fallen from a moving train. It seemed unimaginable that I was meant to report for duty at the hospital in less than a month. My new employers were expecting a freshly minted physician full of knowledge and an eagerness to heal. As it was, I could barely remember my name.


See all the films in this series.

Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.

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