What's it like working in an ER?
CJ: Becoming a doctor was amazing—I come from a small town in Pennsylvania and worked three jobs to put myself through medical school—but becoming a writer was a dream I'd had all my life, so being able to make it come true has been fantastic beyond words.
My writing career hasn't been smooth sailing, in many ways it's as hard as being a doctor (I actually work longer hours now!) but it has been fulfilling in so many ways.
As a doctor the greatest rush came from those rare moments when I actually saved a life. As a writer I get the chance to touch hundreds of thousands of lives—and I can't begin to describe the feeling I get when I hear from fans about how my stories have done more than provide entertainment but have inspired or empowered them. Talk about your dreams come true!
But real life in the ER isn’t always that exciting—and definitely not as glamorous as they portray it on TV. For instance, the popular TV show Grey's Anatomy has interns, who'd be maybe 25 years old, sleeping with "world renown" surgical attendings…well, to be a "world renown" neurosurgeon you'd have to have 12 years of primary education, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 7 years of residency, probably another 3 year fellowship, and then be in practice a long time, at least 5-10 years…so the 25 year old intern's love interest would be old enough to be her father! Gross!
Not only that, a surgical intern doesn't have time to sleep or bathe (interns eat on the run) so sex isn't the first thing you think of doing when you finally do make it to a call room.
Don't even get me started on stories where a "doctor" can do everything from take x-rays (99.9% of us wouldn't even know where the "on" button is) to diagnose rare diseases from glancing into a microscope to doing brain surgery one minute and heart surgery the next…while I love the idea of doctors being heroes, let's at least make us human.
Real life in the ER is a lot of hard, hard work—and it’s teamwork that counts. The ER is a crucible that exposes the worst and best in people. My seventeen years of practicing medicine gave me the chance to witness courage first hand and really see what it takes for ordinary people to step up and become heroes. I owe so much to my patients and their families for teaching me the true meaning of courage, love, faith, and strength.
Those years also gave me the opportunity to work alongside men and women who became my heroes: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, social workers, prosecutors…As well as a chance to come face to face with evil, whether in the form of sociopaths, sexual predators, even killers.
All of these experiences have influenced my writing and are why I chose to write what I call Thrillers with Heart. Fast paced novels that aren't about the car chases and explosions as much as they are about the people and their relationships while focusing on a truth I discovered for myself during my time as an ER doctor: Heroes are born everyday.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).