UT-Houston Medicine is published twice a year by the The University
of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H.
Henny van Dijk
Complete Printed Version
Inside TV's “Houston
Inside TV's “Houston Medical”
summer, the nation was riveted by "Houston Medical", a
six series reality drama that aired on ABC. The program showcased
UT-Houston Medical School physicians, students, and residents at
the School and at Memorial Hermann Hospital, the School's primary
teaching hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Here four "cast
members" give their behind-the-scene views of participating
in this once-in-a-lifetime event in their own words. -
by Colleen O'Brien
From the deck of a fishing boat
to the crossfire of a medical inquisition, Dr. Gill shone for the
cameras as his story played out on "Houston Medical."
How accurately were
you portrayed on "Houston Medical?"
think the film crew from ABC did a pretty good job portraying the
different personality types, what motivates people to become doctors,
what makes being a doctor difficult, and what makes being a doctor
How long a period did
the TV crew follow you?
Around eight or nine months - I was on camera dozens of times,
actually. In a given week, for instance, they would show up maybe
30 times in the trauma room, and I would be on camera for short bits.
Sometimes they would follow up and interview me after a shoot.
Has being on the show
changed your life?
No. I mean sometimes I get recognized in the grocery store, for
instance and people will come up and talk to me. But (laughing), there's
not a whole lot of slack time as a resident. Really, there's no social
life. You have to enjoy what you do, because that's pretty much the
only time you've got.
When do you finish up
End June 2003.
Do you have any plans
after your residency?
I want to go into private practice, somewhere in this country.
I want to specialize in general surgery. And it has to be somewhere
where the weather is warm! What did you think of "Houston Medical?"
I was very proud to be a part of the series, and I might be biased,
but I thought it was very good. I was surprised how well the show
turned out. I guess I was expecting just another medical reality TV
show. Instead, I thought the show portrayed the emotional side of
real life doctors in a very creative way. Besides (laughing), my mother
enjoyed the show!
Does she live in town?
No, she lives in Montgomery, Alabama, where I grew up. She and
her friends would gather around in the living room to watch the series.
Professor of Neurology
Director, Divisoin of Child Neurology
TV spot, if you will, involved a little 5-year-old boy with headaches
and neck pains. He had Chiari Syndrome, which is a brain malformation,
and it was diagnosed with the usual tests, including magnetic resonance
imaging. He subsequently went on to see
neurosurgeon Dr. James Baumgartner, who was also filmed in another
How were you chosen?
The TV crew showed up one day and asked, "Do you have any children?"
(Laughing) I have several; but they're all grown and gone away now.
Actually the producers were looking for undiagnosed cases. About a
week or two later, out at our FM 1960 clinic, this little boy and
his family came in to see me. I thought to myself, "They would be
perfect for this TV spot." So I later called the parents and asked
if they would be interested in appearing on the show and they said
yes. I called the TV crew, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Has being in the
show changed your life?
No, no, not really. Except, hmm, except my hair stylist, people in
the coffee shop, the staff, people on the street, people in the grocery
store. It's the accent, I think. They recognize me when I start to
You're ou're from
How did you feel
about being asked to be part of "Houston Medical?"
You know, it was interesting, but some people were
upset, with the approach of, what are they doing HERE, invading our
space? But I thought, Memorial Hermann can't get this kind of publicity
for love nor money, and all of a sudden ABC wants to come and do a
special on us. Nowhere else in the Texas Medical Center, really, with
all the Taj Mahals here, are there as many pieces of a great hospital
under one roof.
What did you think
of the series?
The series showed doctors as people. Specialists yes, but still, just
people. People who get divorced, get married, die, and have children.
And that sometimes, in fact, many times, there are no ultimate medical
Coupe , M.D.
Department of Orthopedics
appeared in the fifth episode, and actually it was more like "a
day in the life of Lisa Hunt." It was a real tearjerker. Lisa was
involved in a nasty motorcycle accident. She was the rider on a
blind date, and the guy - the driver - turned out to be a really
nice guy. He was a fireman and was thrown and killed. The camera
crew picked up on me doing the
- major reconstruction work on Lisa's leg. Lisa loves to dance and
we did get her back on the dance floor. She's doing a lot better now.
How long a period
did the TV crew follow you?
Three or four months.
After the surgeries on Lisa, they'd come over to the emergency room.
They even came to my home to film myself, my wife, and my two kids.
I have a boy and a girl, ages 10 and 12. They filmed us playing in
the park (laughing). Not exactly exciting news stuff, so I think that
ended on the editing floor. We weren't going through a divorce; we
weren't fighting - but that's all right with me. I like having a nice
family to come home to. I get my adrenaline rush right here, doing
trauma pediatric ortho surgeries - repairing open tibias - at 2 a.m.
How have you been affected
by the show?
What being on the show has done for
me is to make me reflect on what's real and what's important. It has
put things in perspective, I guess. That the most important thing
in my life - what's real - is my kids and my wife. Family life is
a simple life - and that's great.
Was there a story that
didn't get picked up by the cameras?
I think we could have done more with the trauma
stories - the ones that involve car accidents, the drinking, the drugs,
the partying until 2 a.m. It's not pretty, but it's the mainstay of
the cases we see. Politicians and philanthropists give a lot of money
to cancer and heart diseases. And don't get me wrong, that's important.
But I think there's a reticence to put money into trauma prevention
because it's the side of society, of ourselves really, that we don't
want to look at. And yet an executive, or a soccer mom, or a family
of four, can be wiped out in an instant, due to the careless habits,
the dark underbelly, of others.
How did you feel about being asked to be part of "Houston Medical?"
I was flabbergasted. I mean maybe it's because I'm young
looking? I don't know. I talk a lot, and we sing and turn the music
up in the operating room. Maybe that's why they chose me. I loved
doing my part.
Medical" viewers got a glimpse of the struggles and triumphs of a
first-year medical student in Latricia Thompson, who came to UT-Houston
a year ago with her husband, Cedrick, and two daughters, Lanae, 11,
and Lelani, 9.
How long a period did the TV crew follow you?
entire year! They wired me and I thought, "Well, it's only for a day."
It was really embarrassing sometimes. I had no clue where they were
and when I needed to bathe, or whatever, they were nowhere to be found!
And they were there for all the embarrassing moments at school, too.
The first day of class, my first exam, the RESULTS of my first exam,
finding out my grades. Biochemistry, for instance, was a really hard
exam, and I had a lot of anxieties about it. But it turned out OK,
and the camera crew was there to record my relief!
How did you react to being on camera?
I guess I'd
have to say that after a while, I sort of got used to being in front
of the camera and actually started to love it. And my family, they
were really encouraging. They've always been my biggest fans. My spouse,
Cedrick, and I, have been married a year last May.
How did you feel about being asked to be a part of "Houston Medical?"
Initially I thought, 'Well, no big deal. It's just a oneday shoot;
maybe they'll show a glimpse of me.' Later, when I realized that they
were going to stick around for a while, I became "modest." That all
this attention was being focused on me. Internally I think I started
to feel shy and quiet. I don't think being on the show really hit
me until after the show came out. Even after it aired, it still seemed
unreal. And then, the e-mails came flooding in. People would tell
me I was an inspiration, that now, they were going to follow their
dreams, that they were inspired to go after their own goals. Also,
different people offered to help me. It was just a wonderful, wonderful
outpouring of positive response and admiration.
Did your hometown pick up on you being on TV?
I don't know about the Chicago newspapers, but the TV stations did.
And my alma mater, Huston Tillotson, in the Austin area, not only
picked up on the story, but sent it out to the rest of the college
community there, and also asked me, "Why didn't you TELL us you were
going to be on TV?" They were so proud of me.