Medical image

Image © Shannon Matteson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

A few years ago, I attended a conference.  One of the workshops was on romantic suspense and building a more believable bad guy.

This is good stuff, I thought, stuff I needed to know. So I trotted on to the workshop, notebook in hand…it was a handy notebook. I still have it.  I made notes on the villain I came up with, because sooner or later, that will be a story.

The last…eh…thirty minutes or so weren’t bad.  She gave useful info and I was able to use some of the info she gave me to help build more believeable bad guys.  Like the one in the Ash trilogy.

Normally, I’d be all over buying her backlist, because her info was solid…as far as that goes.

She lost me out of the gate, though.

All because of this…

So when I decided I’d be writing a romance with a doctor for a heroine, the first thing I did was order eight seasons of ER.

And UP goes my hand.

I tried to be nice. Really. It was her workshop.

But that was some bad advice and I couldn’t, in good conscience, let a bunch of writers think that ordering ER was solid research.

She looks at me, smiles… and I go… “Ah, ER is really not very useful for medical research.  Maybe you could try talking to doctors or nurses.”

And she tells me… doctors and nurses are busy.

Okay, then. To be fair, I did buy her book. I read it. And yep, even though trauma isn’t my thing, the medical stuff didn’t come off as remotely believable. Not from a nurse’s POV.  If she’d asked a nurse, or asked a doctor, a few little things here or there, would have made it more workable.

TV is a piss-poor excuse for research.  I’m not a cop, but I’m not going to assume that Law and Order is seriously what happens in law enforcement.

The only medical show I’ve ever watched that didn’t make me want to either laugh or bang my head was House. Grey’s and ER often just made me snicker or roll my eyes so I didn’t bother watching.

But House? That one I liked, because the main character was such a bastard. I loved him.

Some (possibly little known/understood) info about the medical profession, and nurses in particular:

  • In order to practice as a nurse, you gotta go to college.  Take the boards. Pass the boards…and get licensed.  It’s not like applying for a job and just somebody there liked how you interviewed.  It’s more complicated.
  • Nurse doesn’t equal bimbo.  Contrary to how we get portrayed on a lot of TV shows.
  • We don’t tend to view every doctor as possible marriage material. Fact of the matter is, quite a few of us want to get away from that when we leave the job. Marrying a doctor means we take it home.
  • Our feet hurt. A lot.
  • The education thing doesn’t stop at college.  It differs from state to state, but most of them have CEUs, Continuing Education Units, where you have to do just that… continue your education.
  • Quite a few nurses stopped wearing white and those little caps a long time ago. It’s scrubs and tennis shoes or clogs now.

This is just an opening.  Tomorrow, we’re going to going to get down to the nitty-gritty. First thing we’ll talk about? Confidentiality.  That can kill a nurse’s career in a heartbeat.