Film

The Doctor Is In

The ER is always there for patients in need, but it took a group of medical mavericks to make that happen

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Mark Brady is one of those people who makes you wonder if he secretly has more hours in his days than the rest of us. The North Providence native is currently working in emergency medicine down in Memphis while also serving in the Navy Reserve. He played lacrosse at PC where he majored in biology, before going on to attend Brown Medical School (while concurrently earning a master’s degree in biomechanical engineering), get a master’s in public health at Harvard, do an emergency medicine residency at Yale (where, naturally, he was chief resident), and get a diploma in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which you didn’t even know existed until just now. In between he did a gap year at a children’s hospital in Cambodia, hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, and did a National Institute of Health fellowship in Peru and Bolivia. Oh, and NBD, but when he had a free moment, he was the executive producer of a documentary on the history of emergency medicine that was narrated by E.R.’s Anthony Edwards and directed by Dave Thomas, whose credits include Lost and The West Wing. Did we mention that he’s not yet 35 years old?

Now that documentary, 24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine, is coming home to Rhode Island when WSBE, our local PBS affiliate, premieres it on December 29. It prominently features Brady’s old professor at Brown, Dr. Brian Zink, as a historical consultant. Zink is no slouch himself, serving as chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, assistant dean of Medical Student Career Development at Brown University, and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals. Brady was inspired to work on the documentary by Dr. Zink’s book, Anyone, Anything, Anytime: The History of Emergency Medicine.

Believe it or not, emergency medicine was not always the presence it is today – in fact, it wasn’t even a recognized medical specialty until 1979. “The story of emergency medicine is about mavericks in the conservative medical establishment bucking the system to meet the changing needs of an evolving American society,” explains Brady. “Back before the 1970s there was no 911, no ambulance systems as we know them, and if you arrived at a hospital the doctor there to care for you was probably the least qualified and most junior.” Brady notes that today there are over 130 million emergency room visits per year in the U.S., treated by doctors with special training in the field, and serviced by equally qualified 911 and ambulance systems that are available anywhere, anytime to anyone. And the ER is the only place that’s required by federal law to treat all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

It’s a part of our medical establishment that we could be forgiven for taking for granted, but Brady’s documentary demonstrates just how vital and revolutionary it once was. “It’s the story of how we got here, and how the ER became the de facto health safety net for America,” he says. Tune in to PBS and witness that story for yourself.

24|7|365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine premieres on Rhode Island PBS on Monday, December 29 at 9pm. It encores on WSBE on December 31 at 1:30am and 2pm, January 1at 4am, and January 3 at 1pm. The documentary also airs on WSBE Learn on January 6 at 10pm, January 7 at 5am, and January 8 at 2am. You can also watch the film in its entirety here.

Watch the trailer here:

247365 Extended Trailer from ONE films on Vimeo.