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New Residents Highlight the Realities of a Post-COVID Chicago Med
NBC Insider chats with showrunners Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider about Chicago Med's COVID-related chaos.
Chicago Med tackles a variety of medical emergencies each episode and often integrates real-life health situations into the storylines. NBC Insider chatted with Chicago Med showrunners Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider about which realities would make their way through the doors of Chicago Medical Center in Season 8. Developments in the COVID-19 epidemic have largely influenced the eighth season as we continue to see how the pandemic has evolved the inner workings of hospitals around the country. Medical supply shortages, understaffed hospitals, and inexperienced new residents are paving the way for a tense Season 8 of Chicago Med.
How has COVID-19 influenced Season 8 of Chicago Med?
Frolov tells NBC Insider that Season 8 will continue to look at how the pandemic has affected access to medical supplies. "In hospitals, it's astonishing the shortages they experience every day," Frolov explains. "You come in with a stroke...you might not get treated for your stroke. Our characters are going to be dealing with that. Sometimes that puts them in conflict, and sometimes that brings them together to figure out a solution."
Season 8, Episode 2—titled "(Caught Between) the Wrecking Ball and the Butterfly"—tackled this issue, beginning with Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) addressing Chicago Medical Center's supply shortage. Dr. Marcel (Dominic Rains) and Dr. Asher (Jessy Schram) argue over which of their patients would receive the last of the contrast dye, which assists in the surgical process. The medical teams sat down to debate which patient needed the dye more, a less-than-ideal situation for both patients involved. Dr. Marcel is forced to improvise to move forward with the surgery. He pulls it off but not without a few close calls.
Another grim aspect of a pandemic-influenced Chicago Med is the new residents: medical students that received their education virtually during the pandemic. "Because of safety concerns, they did their training by Zoom. They did not get any real, clinical hands-on experience," Schneider explains.
Dr. Archer (Steven Weber) and Dr. Choi (Brian Tee) face this issue head-on when one of the new residents struggles to confidently treat ER patients, afraid that he might hurt them while treating them. After the resident struggles to locate a patient's trachea, he reveals to Dr. Archer and Dr. Choi that he felt like he was "auditioning", as he'd only ever completed the procedure virtually.
"So, you have new residents coming into the hospital who have never touched a patient," Scheider explains. "And that will be a big problem. For those young doctors and for our older physicians trying to train them."
Schneider concludes that when the going gets tough, the Chicago Med doctors will have to get going regardless. "They also have to rely on old techniques that haven't been practiced for years. But since the new technology isn't available, they go back to what was done 20 years ago in that event," Schneider reveals. "And we also see characters like Ethan and Archer, who were battlefield doctors, showing how they can improvise. They can make do with very little and teach the younger doctors how to do things."
It's never simple for Chicago Med's doctors and nurses, and with a new wave of residents coming in with a distinct lack of experience and shortage in supplies, the stakes have never been higher. Season 8 is shaking out to be a complex season of new obstacles, and the Chicago Med doctors must rise to the challenge regardless of what COVID-related chaos comes through their doors.