Is there a doctor in the house?

Last night’s season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy was great. (Click here to read the ramblings I posted during the show.)

But what is it like to be a real medical intern or resident? Dr. Courtney Burrell is a pediatric intern at Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami, Fla. We had a chat with her recently about her life as an intern.

Did you start watching Grey’s largely because of your dream to become a doctor?

I usually watch all of the medical shows because of my interest in medicine. Grey’s, however, is more of my “soap opera” than it is my medical show.

When you were watching the show back in medical school, did you hope and think your intern experience would be like theirs?

I wanted the bonding that ocurred between the group of residents more so the drama that surrounds them. I also like the connection the residents have with their patients.

So how has your first year been so far?

So far residency has been wonderful. Some of my fellow residents think I am crazy for saying that because this is supposed to be the most taxing year of residency. However, I love going to work everyday. I enjoy seeing my patients get better and it’s fulfilling to me getting to know my patients and their families.

So how is your experience different from the Grey’s crew?

There is a lot more time with the attendings in teaching situations and we definitely don’t go out drinking with them.

Have you found a little Grey’s Anatomy-esque group of friends?

Our entire class is fairly tight. We try to hang out as much as possible. We also are very intertwined with the second and third year class. Everyone is very supportive of one another and love getting together every chance we get to relieve the stress. Most of us aren’t from Miami so we become each others families.

So where’s the medical intern hangout spot in Miami?

We usually go to Monty’s Raw Bar on Fridays to partake of pain killer #3’s and enjoy their delicious oysters. And of course the beach is a great place to relax and unwind.

What is a pain killer #3? Sounds illegal.

It’s some sort of alcoholic beverage. Very potent. Probably should be illegal.

Do you ever sleep at the hospital?

Being on call means staying in the hospital overnight to watch over the patients and admit any new patients that come into the emergency room. This occurs every fourth night and you have half of the next day off. When I work in the ER we work 12 hour shifts, which I find to be especially taxing, especially the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift. It’s just not natural to be up at this hour!

Which Grey’s are you most like?

I am the Nazi Miranda Bailey. And this is not a bad thing. I am a very independent person. I am a leader by nature and love being in charge and directing the care of my patients. I also would like to be chief resident after my third year. It will give me a chance to teach future residents as well as hone my leadership skills. It’s amazing to me that most people think I am further along in my residency. A nurse once told me I just seemed so comfortable on the floors. She couldn’t believe it was only my second week of residency.

So since you’re a pediatric intern I guess you won’t be falling in love with any of your patients like Izzie did with Denny and Alex with Rebecca.

I hope not. I can’t say I won’t fall in love with one and want to adopt them though.

Tell us about something that’s happened to you at the hospital that you think would make a great sitcom episode.

This actually happened to one of my fellow interns. A teenage female was presented to the emergency room with vaginal bleeding. After she was examined, it was determined that she had just delivered a baby, which she adamantly denied. After the police searched her home, they found a newborn infant with leaves stuffed in his mouth. He was rushed into the neonatal intensive care unit for care. He was found to have a tear of his esophagus because the branches had been pushed so far down his throat.

It is a very sad case on so many levels. It demonstrates the epidemic of teen pregnancy and how it effects us socially and as well as medically. If the baby survives this catastrophic injury, his medical costs will be astronomical. Plus he will likely be placed in foster care because his mother is not mature enough to care for him given her actions before and after birth. She had not sought prenatal care and simply left him for dead in the bushes outside her home. I think an effort must be made to better educate teens about abstinence and contraception. Teens must also be educated about safe havens and informed that they can leave their newborns at safe houses anonymously and safely.



  1. OMG – my mouth was hanging open at the end. I think because I don’t really see things like that, I forget people can be as evil and horrible as they sometimes are. That’s not a lack of education. That’s a lack of a soul! (no I don’t really feel like that, but she would make me want to shove leaves down her throat)

    I’m also glad to read that real Residency experiences aren’t exactly like Greys. I love Greys, but I think, ‘how can they focus on their patients with so much personal drama in their own lives?’ I know how hard it is to focus after a breakup or death, but I don’t want to think of my doctor having that same difficulty while performing surgery on me. 🙂

  2. I agree with the NAZI thing. LOL!

    But anyway, i think Grey’s is little over the top with the the story lines and the lives of the interns. I just hope no one enrolls in medical school because they watch Grey’s and think it’s cool.

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