It is one of the busiest emergency departments in the country brought to life in TV medical dramas, but this is real life in the ER in Cook County. Patients come from all across Chicago. Doctors come from all over the world. Tonight we take you into the trenches.
Schooled at Harvard, this was the first choice for Dr. J. Allen Houston.
But this balancing act is based in science. Residents becoming instant experts on every ailment.
Dr. Houston: "Emergency medicine, especially, is a good clinical foundation. We strive to know at least a little something about all the severe illnesses, for newborns all the way up to the elderly population."
They ask questions, they treat patients and they learn on the job. There are days when it's like a baptism by fire.
Dr. Steven Bowman, Program Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Stroger Hospital: "There are times when it's stressful, where you can't get beds and the place is filling up, and ambulances are still coming, but this is what I signed up for."
Dr. Bowman: "I love my job. I love the clinical part, and then I love the teaching."
Still others love the changing nature of the job. There may not be breaks, but there is no boredom either.
Dr. Krista Grandey, Chief Resident, Emergency Medicine, Stroger Hospital: "That's one of the main reasons I went into ER, I always wanted to see something different. I never wanted to be in an office seeing the same thing every day all the time."
Change is good, and even those who had trouble staying focused in school can thrive here.
Dr. Bowman: "The ideal emergency surgeon has a very short attention span."
And in the end the greatest sense of accomplishment!
Dr. Houston: "We are the safety net of the safety net. Here, our patients come in for trauma, they come in for urgent medical care, but it's also like a pharmacy. It's also a psychiatric care unit, it's also like a primary care doctor clinic."
The hospital receives about a thousand applications annually, but only seventeen doctors are accepted into the popular program.