Lights, camera, accuracy
Have you ever yelled at the TV in frustration because of the unrealistic settings and flawed portrayals of nursing on medical dramas? What if you were asked to provide input, to ensure a show is as true to life as possible? Kim Streitenberger, a Toronto RN with a background in pediatric critical care, was a consultant for Global’s prime-time drama Remedy,which premièred in late February. Canadian Nurse spoke to her in April about the experience.
How did you get this opportunity?
This is the first time I’ve consulted on a TV show, and it really came about by chance. The daughter of the executive producer was a friend, and she asked me to meet with Greg Spottiswood (the show’s creator) and the writers to talk about life as a critical care nurse. I agreed because I thought it would be an interesting thing to do. When we met, I described the average day in a hospital and talked about my experiences. Then, they asked if they could contact me with any questions when writing future episodes.
Were there any particular inaccuracies or personal pet peeves you were on the lookout for?
Greg wanted me to pinpoint a single thing that I felt was important for them to get right. I mentioned two: first, that emergency department physicians don’t do everything. They care for patients in the ED, but they don’t perform heart surgery or a kidney transplant and don’t manage patients in the ICU and the inpatient unit. The second was a bit more specific: that when a patient is receiving oxygen via facemask, the audience should not hear the sound of a ventilator cycling in the background!
What did your role entail?
Over the next six months, I met with members of the production team to discuss specific episodes, answered questions — often in e-mails or on the phone — and reviewed scripts, storylines and sound clips. I was on set for an episode that had scenes in a pediatric ICU. I worked with the medical technician to get the right look and advised the actors, including Sarah Allen (who plays Sandy Conner, an RN), and the production team during the filming.
Now that quite a few episodes have aired, what are your thoughts on the show?
I’m enjoying watching the characters and storyline develop. It is, after all, a family drama that happens to be set in a hospital. I look forward to seeing where the writers take us next. I can honestly say that everyone I met was always very interested in being as accurate as possible, in terms of the clinical story and of showcasing the unique contribution of each member of the team to the care patients receive. In my view, the portrayal of RNs has been very positive.