Ram scrubs in for reality TV show highlighting docs in training

Promotional picture of seven doctors featured in the docu-drama about Vanderbilt medical doctors on the USA Network. CSU Ram Erin Mcguinn is second from the right

For many students, an undergraduate degree from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is an essential stepping stone to a medical career. But few would expect that career to include a starring television role.

We caught up with Dr. Erin McGuinn, a college alumna and star of the new docu-drama Vanderbilt MDs on USA Network, to talk about her experience on the show. McGuinn, who graduated from CSU in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental health, is in her second year of residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is one of seven residents whose lives are the focus of the six-week pilot series.

“It was exhausting. We are doctors, we’re not in showbiz,” said McGuinn, who, like fellow residents, is gaining on-the-job training required for medical licensure and practice. “I learned a lot, but I don’t think I would do it again. It was a neat, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”

Erin Mcguinn sits on a chair with a coworker at Vanderbilt
Dr. Erin McGuinn (left), a college alumna and star of a new docu-drama on USA Network, first heard about the show when she received an email to apply. “Every amazing opportunity I’ve had has come from taking a chance,” McGuinn said.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a doctor?
A: When I was in high school working at a zoo in Pueblo, Colo., I was gung-ho to become a veterinarian, which is why I chose to go to CSU. But, while in college and studying abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico, I volunteered at a health clinic for underserved kids. I really got to see the rewards of human medicine.

Q. What’s your favorite memory from CSU?
A: I consider the CSU environmental health folks my family. I don’t think I would be where I am without my experience within the environmental health major at CSU.

I had the opportunity to play a central role in building a research project in Nicaragua, investigating the health impacts of cookstoves. I even used my Spanish to collaborate with folks down in Nicaragua. It was cool to be able to go to Nicaragua two summers in a row and see the project come to fruition.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of your medical residency?

A: My job challenges me every single day both professionally and personally. I’ve done things I never thought I could do.

Being a physician allows you a very unique role in someone’s life. You have an opportunity to be there and help patients and their families make the most out of the situation.

Q. How were you approached to be on the show “Vanderbilt MDs”?
A: After I matched to Vanderbilt for my residency, I received an email to apply for the show. I thought that since I’ve done so many things in my life outside of my comfort zone, I should seize the moment. Every amazing opportunity I’ve had has come from taking a chance.

Q. What’s the biggest struggle about exposing your whole life on television?
A: You definitely don’t ever want to mess anything up when treating a patient, but TV adds another level of pressure. You can’t imagine the pressure of having a camera in your face while you’re doing a spinal tap.

Also, I was one of the only people in the house in a relationship. I kind of played the poster child for how you maintain a relationship when your real significant other is work. So, they taped a lot of dates. It was kind of awkward.

Q. What do you aspire to do after your residency is over?
A: I hope to do a fellowship in ICU medicine. My dream is to work for Doctors without Borders in Latin America with underserved populations. I enjoy immersing myself in their culture, speaking Spanish, and working with the people.

To catch McGuinn and her co-residents in action, visit the USA Network’s webpage.