Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bob Gunton. Directed by Tom Shadyac, it is based on the life story of Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams and his book, Gesundheit: Good Health is a Laughing Matter, by Adams and Maureen Mylander. Despite being poorly received by critics and Dr. Adams himself, the film was a box-office success, grossing over twice its budget in the United States alone.
A suicidal Hunter "Patch" Adams (Robin Williams) commits himself into a mental institution. Once there, he finds that using humor, as opposed to the indifferent sessions provided by their doctor, to help his fellow patients gives him a purpose in life. Because of this he wants to become a medical doctor and two years later enrolls at the Medical College of Virginia (now known as VCU School of Medicine) as the oldest first year student. He questions the school's soulless approach to medical care and clashes with the school's Dean Walcott (Bob Gunton), who believes that doctors must treat patients as patients and not bond with them as people. Because of this and incidents such as setting up a giant pair of legs during an obstetric conference, he is expelled from the medical school, although he is later reinstated due to his methods actually helping patients improve. Adams encourages medical students to work closely with nurses, learn interviewing skills early, and argues that death should be treated with dignity and sometimes even humor.