* * Anonymous Doc

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why do I do this to myself? Hart of Dixie, on the CW, starring Rachel Bilson as a doctor. A few years ago, I would have said that there's no way Rachel Bilson could pass as a doctor, but I had all sorts of med school classmates and have all sorts of fellow residents who don't look or act or talk any more like a doctor than she does, so I'm not going to judge based on appearances. She could be a perfectly excellent doctor...

Except I don't think any doctors were consulted in the making of this TV show, or if they were, I think they should get their licenses suspended.

Honestly, it lost me in the first five minutes, and, unfortunately, I'm never going to be able to get past the premise. The head of her "New York Hospital," where she's done a magical 4-year surgery residency, won't give her the one cardiothoracic surgery fellowship slot because she doesn't care enough about her patients.

So he forces her to be a "general practitioner" for a year, before applying again.

Let's stop there for a moment. She is a surgery resident. Surgery and medicine are two entirely different things, with different training. She isn't licensed to be a general practitioner, and she certainly isn't qualified to be a general practitioner. She cannot be a general practitioner. And that's putting aside the question of why anyone would even want her to be. She wants to be a surgeon. She's apparently good at surgery. If she has a crappy bedside manner, well, she'll fit right in. No one is denying fellowships to talented surgeons because they don't remember their patients' names. And if someone was denied a fellowship for that reason, no one is going to tell them to go slum it in the primary care clinic. Because that doesn't make any sense. Surgery isn't some super-medicine that floats above general practice. It's a separate thing. You wouldn't tell a cardiologist that before he can do heart transplants, he needs to spend a year as a dentist. That would make about as much sense as this show's premise does.

I'm going to ignore the timeline problems with the fellowship application process-- you apply more than a year in advance, you know well in advance, nothing is being sprung on anyone last-minute forcing them to take a bus to rural Alabama for the only general practice job left in the country...

Which, by the way, didn't make sense either. We have a primary care shortage in this country. If she could fake an internal medicine license, she could work in any city in the country. "New York has no general practitioner jobs," she says. What nonsense is that?

And then, of course, she ends up delivering a baby in the episode. Which makes perfect sense, since she has apparently done a residency in everything. OB/GYN, of course, is an entirely separate field from either surgery or internal medicine. And there is no way I'm trusting someone with no training at all in delivering babies to deliver one. All she needed to do was perform brain surgery on a cow and the entire spectrum of things an all-knowing medical practitioner can do would be complete.

I won't even go into the mechanics of state-by-state licensing and how she would need some amount of time to get an Alabama license even if she were qualified to be licensed in medicine, or how it makes no sense that this guy would leave her his practice without telling her (maybe a lawyer wants to tell me if you can leave a bequest in your will that the person doesn't learn about until they show up rolling a suitcase down the road), or why this town doesn't seem to know about appointments or medical insurance.

At least Grey's Anatomy pretends well enough that a doctor can watch it. This simply didn't make any sense at all.

Which likely means it will become a huge hit.


  1. All I did was watch a few deliveries and perform two during my paramedic training, which was more than enough to "allow" me to birth them in the field! So why shouldn't she just get off the bus and start catching them, it's just a baby ;)

  2. As a nonmedical person, I'd be curious to hear your opinion on the reasonableness of the premise behind Northern Exposure.

  3. Last I knew there were still some family practice doctors who did indeed provide prenatal/obstretical care to low risk patients who were already established in their family practice. THough I don't know if family practice and general practitioner is the same thing. Regardless... surgeons aren't family practice docs or general practioners.

  4. i sure hope she has the malpractice insurance to match!

  5. but the important question: does she put the stethoscope in her ears backwards? That makes me cringe EVERY SINGLE TIME! on Grey's.

  6. In regards to a surgeon becoming a GP - isn't this the premise of the British show Doc Martin? He is supposed to be a brilliant surgeon who gives up surgery because he can't stand the sight of blood and becomes a GP. Is that similar to Rachel Bilson's character's story?