Not Your Mama’s Medicine!
by Wynter Daniels and Joanie White
For today’s smart, savvy readers, medical romances require more than just the backdrop of medical professionals. Many have both hero and heroine in the field and they want a substantial amount of medical information in the books. It’s important to remember that these stories are romances in a medical setting rather than medical stories with a romance in them. The modern medical landscape changes so rapidly that it’s vital to keep current.
Popular medical fields for characters are pediatrics, maternity, ER, and GP practices, and can be set in a glamorous city setting or a cozy country doctor’s office. These days, 52% of doctors are women, and more and more men are entering the nursing field.
Something to keep foremost in your mind when you decide how much detail to include in your story is your audience. Readers of medical romances have often read many of them. They might be more aware of medical issues than the average Jane. Perhaps they too work in the medical field.
For these books, it’s essential to use correct and up-to-date terminology, to know the right type of facility, the correct departments and the appropriate type of medical personnel. It’s also important to accurately describe conditions, diagnostic tests, and treatments.
Along with this medically savvy audience, you have laymen thrown into the mix. So be sure your terms and descriptions are not so technical or detailed that you will put the laymen set to sleep!
If you are writing something other than a medical romance, you will want less detail, but that information must be accurate. Why? Well, you might be able to get something inaccurate past an editor, but you won’t get it past all your readers. One wrong detail will blow your credibility as an author and you will lose that reader. Say your prospective agent or editor finds an inaccuracy. That one little oversight might doom you to the rejection pile.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Characters can be other hospital personnel, not just doctors and nurses. Many hospitals now have large retail areas, pharmacies, spas and gyms. Consider using support staff as characters.
- Social workers are now called case managers in the medical setting.
- Paper charts are a thing of the past. Medical staff carry computers.
- Non-traditional therapies are now common—pet therapy (dogs, not cats), music therapy, art therapy and aroma therapy. These fields require educated professionals who come into the hospital and help patients.
- Most medical care is now delivered in an outpatient setting.
- Complimentary medicine is widely accepted and in use, ie—acupuncture, meditation, and yoga.
- There are no longer nurseries in most hospitals. Babies stay with their mothers around the clock.
- Most surgeries are now done robotically with machines like the DaVinci robot (except C-sections).
Some things not to do:
- Show nurses being overtly sexual in any way on the job. No flirting or kissing. This infuriates nurses.
- Show nurses interested in dating patients. They’d be fired.
- Show medical personnel shouting. They don’t shout, even in an emergency. The quieter they become, the worse the situation is.
- Show nurses working in several areas. They are assigned to one area and usually work twelve-hour shifts three days a week.
- Show overhead pages, or anyone carrying a pager. Everyone is contacted by cell phone.
One good way to stay accurate is to use trusted websites for research. Here are some top picks:
Copyright Wynter Daniels and Joanie White, 2017
Wynter Daniels has authored more than three dozen romances, including contemporary, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance books for several publishers including Entangled Publishing and Carina Press. She lives in sunny Florida with her family and a very spoiled cat. After careers in marketing and the salon industry, Wynter’s wicked prose begged to be set free. You can find her on the web on Facebook, Twitter and her website.
Joanie White is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Orlando, Florida. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and The University of Central Florida. Joanie has experience as a flight nurse, nurse educator and has worked in the two largest Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the United States. In her spare time, Joanie can be found with a book and a dog in her lap.