EPM reviews the second episode of “The Night Shift,” NBC’s new drama about emergency medicine and the hospital night crew. Full of preposterous medical situations and soap opera romance, The Night Shift might be a step backwards from “ER,” but it’ll provide hours of entertainment.
(If you aren’t caught up, you can read our review of episode 1 here.)
We’ve made it through the second episode of NBC’s “The Night Shift”.
Now, I’m an emergency doctor, and if you’re reading this on EPMonthly.com, maybe you are too. If so, see if this sounds like your last night shift.
The episode starts like any other nightshift. You go in early because you can’t wait to chill out with your sexy young nightshift team on the rooftop of your hospital. You get half naked and lounge in the inflatable pool while chatting with your bookie. You wave to another doc and a few more staff who are intensely kickboxing, and you flirt with your boss who is also your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.
You are intense, a genius, you work hard and play hard. You’re a bit broken, nobody quite knows how you feel and you don’t let them get too close. Pretty much everybody wants to sleep with you and vice versa. In short, you’re a total badass.
Then “ding” the clock strikes 7pm and the fun begins! You see tons of patients, take tons of breaks, ride an emotional roller coaster, and glue some sexy colleagues to their chairs so they have to strip down to their undies to get free. Nightshift! You love it and you hate it but, hey, someone’s gotta do it!
Wait, that’s not your normal shift? Well, Nightshift is sometimes similar to your ED and sometimes very very different.
We get a little more character development and backstory this week. Turns out protagonist TC, best friend Topher (wife prego with twins), and a whole host of other characters did some brutal military duty in Afghanistan where they all got a bit too much exposure to chaos and emergencies. TC and his ex-girlfriend and nightshift chief, Jordan, just might not be over each other. And new TC fling, Landry, just might make things complicated.
The rest of the episode walks us through a bunch of patient encounters that will actually sound familiar. There is an entitled rich lady texting while she complains about her ankle sprain BIBA, there are multiple traumas arriving at the same time and smoothly distributed by an efficient and focused ED staff, there is a kid with suspected abuse, there are gunshot wound victims being resuscitated, and old folks with STDs.
Now, parts of this show are ridiculous. Do you have an overnight administrator? Do you have an overnight ED mental health professional? Did your last thoracotomy patient wake up and tell jokes before definitive surgery?
And, did your brother die in Afghanistan then donate his heart to a fellow soldier who had previously saved your life but who now needed a transplant who then became a cop and got shot in the heart while you were on duty in the ED where you had to crack his chest yourself then try to find him another heart transplant that same night yet tragically fail to do so? Yeah, me neither.
But, should I complain about the drama? Maybe not.
Can you think on your feet? Yep. Can you make tough choices? Yep. Can you handle whatever comes through the door? Yep. Can you resuscitate and stabilize critical patients? Yep. Take away (some of) the drama, take away (some of) the personality disorders and this is what ED doctors do every day.
I’ll admit, this kind of over-the-top show is not my cup of tea. But, public demand for a dramatization of a busy ED night shift can be taken as a compliment. And, maybe it’s not that far off. There are some amazing life and death stories playing out right now across the nation’s EDs. So, I will try to keep an open mind. And, I’m going to buy tight jeans and a motorcycle for my next shift…just like TC.
Aaron Bright, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the LAC + USC Medical Center.