The most popular unscripted show in England this year has been 24 HOURS IN THE ER. The series, which has done well in its American home on BBC America on Tuesday nights, follows the real staff in the Accident and Emergency Department of London’s King’s College Hospital as they deal with patients throughout the day and night. Jennifer Du-Prat is one of the senior sisters (as the British call their head nurses) at the hospital. As a medical professional, TV stardom was one of the last things she expected from her career. She talks about her job and the effect that being followed by cameras has had on her and her colleagues.

ASSIGNMENT X: How long have you been working at King’s College Hospital?

JENNIFER DU-PRAT: Nine years.

AX: What drew you to medicine as a career?

DU-PRAT: When I was a bit younger, one of my teachers said to me, “I think you’d make a really good nurse.” And then I did a few different jobs, and at the age of twenty-one, I wasn’t really going anywhere, I hadn’t really chosen anything, and I thought, “Someone said I’d make a good nurse, so I’ll try, I’ll get into it and see,” and here I am nineteen years later.

AX: Does 24 HOURS IN THE ER cover any of the most difficult cases you’ve worked on in your nursing career?

DU-PRAT: Yeah. We have such extreme cases – unfortunately, we’re in quite a high crime area. We have a lot of stabbings, a lot of shootings, a lot to do with gangs and things like that.

AX: Do you have a favorite aspect of what you do?

DU-PRAT: I like [working on] trauma – car accidents, stabbings, shootings, something to get my teeth into and use all the skills that I’ve managed to accumulate through the years that I’ve been doing it.

AX: So the bigger the injury, the more you can do?

DU-PRAT: Yeah, definitely. You can have someone who’s lost a hell of a lot of blood from, say, a gunshot wound, and when they get in to us, they’re really, really sick, and it’ll take about five, ten minutes of everybody doing a massive, massive job, loads of blood going into them, maybe we’re having to open up their chest or open up their stomach to try and stop the bleeding that way, or getting them stable enough and taking them straight to [the operating] theatre. So it’s a real buzz of adrenaline.

AX: Is there anything about your work that ever grosses you out?

DU-PRAT: Probably not. I’m not very good with feet. I don’t really like feet. I did have a patient whose toe dropped off once, and that was completely … [nonverbal sound of great discomfort].

AX: Do you get a lot of gunshot victims, or is that relatively rare? In America, most of us have this vision of England as having strict gun control?

DU-PRAT: It comes in fits and starts. You might get, say, three in one week, and then the police really crack down on guns, and then you won’t get any for about three or four months. And then it comes back into fashion, as it were. Unfortunately, as I said, there are a lot of gang problems inLondon at the moment, so if they’ve got hold of some guns, you’ll find more shootings in a couple of weeks. But mostly it’s stabbings.

AX: Were you particularly conscious of the filming for 24 HOURS while it was going on?

DU-PRAT: Not at all. Because it was all fixed [stationary] cameras, there was no crew running around. The only difference was that you had the radio mic, so the first couple of days, you were quite conscious of having that on you and watching what you said. You were a little bit more conscious of what you did. But within a couple of days, all that went out the window. Nothing interfered with you doing your job, which was really, really nice. About three, four months later, Channel Four were doing another documentary called TRAUMA, where they went to different trauma centers around the world. It was a camera crew, so it was about five crew [members present] at any one time. There was no space. You had to say, “Would you mind getting out of the way while I go get this bag of fluid?” So my experience with 24 HOURS IN THE ER was so easy, really.

AX: 24 HOURS IN THE ER has already aired in the U.K. What’s the reaction been?

DU-PRAT: Really good, brilliant.

AX: Are people now recognizing you on the street from the show?

DU-PRAT: Yeah. They’re congratulating me and just being really positive, [sending] nice letters.

AX: Anybody saying, “I now want to be a trauma nurse because of you”?

DU-PRAT: A few, yeah. There are quite a few people who are like, “I really want to come into nursing and I’d really like to work in your department.”

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: Exclusive Interview with Jen Du-Prat on 24 HOURS IN THE ER

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Comments:

  1. Keep up good work jen sure Mr Lucas Williams would be proud of you.

    gerard stockwell

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