Friday, July 30, 2010

Chatting with Mike O’Donnell, RN, of “Boston Med”

O'Donnell hugs a patient's mother

Mike O'Donnell, RN, is one of many MGHers who have appeared in "Boston Med." O'Donnell appeared in the July 22 episode of the eight-part series, which airs Thursday nights at 10 pm EST on Channel 5. To read a full-length interview with O'Donnell and other MGHers in the series, visit

Q. How long have you been a nurse? A. I've been a nurse just about 15 years; 10 of those have been at the MGH. I talked about it a little bit in the episode, but basically, I had never really thought about being a nurse until a close family friend sort of saw the "writing on the wall" for me and thought it was something I should consider.

Q. In the Emergency Department (ED), you provide care for some of the sickest patients. How do you handle the stress and intensity of the job? A. You have to first focus on what you're doing -- and then there's a kind of disconnect that enables you to kind of do it. This wasn't something that was obvious to me in the beginning, and I would carry a lot of the sad stuff around with me. For the sake of self-preservation, you don't have to stop being a compassionate person, but you do have to try to keep your work at arm's length.

Q. What was it like to be filmed and followed by a film crew while working in the ED? A. It was a little uncomfortable at first -- maybe not uncomfortable, just odd. But the crew was really good at staying out of everybody's way and being inconspicuous and mindful of what was going on. Not only were they good at what they did, but they were nice people, and I enjoyed their company.

Q. Where did you watch the episode you were featured in? Who were you with and what did they think? A. I watched it at a local bar with some friends and colleagues, including Adriana Reguera, RN, an ED nurse, and Amanda Grabowski, RN, another ED nurse who was featured in the series. The feedback I've received so far has been really good. My only goal, and really the reason I was interested in participating in the series, was to show people what nursing is -- to help them understand what it is that we do and why it is so valuable to the hospital and patient care.

Q. What was your reaction after watching the episode? A. It's weird to see yourself on TV, but I thought ABC, the editors and all the people who worked on the series did a great job of putting it together. I felt a little awkward watching it, but I walked out of the place feeling pretty good. The episode showed nursing in a positive light and in a way that people might not always get a chance to see.

Q. Have any of your patients mentioned the show to you since seeing it? A. None of my patients have said anything yet, but a few people have recognized me here and there and mentioned that they're enjoying the show and that it's nice to see nurses showcased. I've also gotten some requests for the turkey vulture dance.

Q. Have your kids seen the show? A. They've seen clips on the computer, but they're 7 and 5 years old, so I don't think they can watch the whole thing. I think I'm going to show them the turkey vulture dance. That's how their dad is at home, so it won't be a surprise to them. 

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