New Medical Drama Misdiagnoses Immigration: 'We're Shutting Our Doors'

Fox's medical drama The Resident premiered on January 21 with its pilot episode in which we get to know the doctors at the fictional Chastain Park Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Chief of Surgery Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) is highly respected but, it turns out, it kind of a a jerk, and has an interesting take on the state of American immigration. 

Dr. Bell is feeling a little insecure because he's having an as-yet-undefined issue which causes a tremor in his hands. He's been killing patients and the doctors and nurses at Chastain are starting to notice, but word hasn't gotten outside the hospital. Meanwhile, a young resident Dr. Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson) from Nigeria is being trained on the Titian, the latest tool in robotic surgery. In fact, she's the only one in the hospital who can do it, and Dr. Bell doesn't appreciate sharing his limelight. On the eve of the first Titian surgery, he causes the patient, Lyle, to doubt Dr. Okafor's skill so that he will ask for Dr. Bell.

 

 

Dr. Bell: Dr. Okafor! A word. 
Dr. Okafor: Sorry, I'm on my way out. I need to rest for the first robot prostatectomy tomorrow morning. 
Dr. Bell: Well, that's actually why I'm here. The patient has requested a last-minute change in the lineup. 
Dr. Okafor: The lineup? 
Dr. Bell: Lyle's always been my patient. He's asked me to step in. 
Dr. Okafor: Does he have a death wish? 
Dr. Bell: I hear you're applying for an O-1 Visa. You'll need a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. I believe that'd be me. 
Dr. Okafor: Dr. Bell, you have never touched the Titian. It takes many hours of practice to be proficient. You cannot do that surgery. As in, it's literally impossible. 
Dr. Bell: You have no idea what's possible for a surgeon with my experience and expertise. 
Dr. Okafor: The surgery is first thing tomorrow morning. There isn't enough time to bring you up to speed. I have to draw a line here. This can't happen. It's too risky for you and for the patient. 
Dr. Bell: Oh, then, I'm afraid you'll be heading back to Abuja. And as you know, immigration to the States has become quite difficult. We're shutting our doors.

The O-1 visa is for "individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics," so Dr. Okafor clearly fits the bill. Yes, she would still need someone at the hospital to vouch for her "extraordinary" ability, but this seems like a pretty weak threat from Dr. Bell. Remember, this is a doctor that killed a patient in a routine appendectomy hours earlier, so he doesn't have a whole lot of room to be blackmailing people, and every other doctor in the hospital is on her side. 

Even liberal sites point out that an O-1 visa is pretty safe, our doors are open to those who are bringing their extraordinary talents to America. It is policies related to H-visas rather than O-1 that are under attack. This whole conversation is incredibly strange. Are we shutting our doors? Of course not. President Trump has talked about a more intense vetting of refugees and is cracking down on illegal immigration, but that is not at all what Dr. Bell is talking about. 

I'm sure the writers enjoyed a scene where an older white male told a young woman of color she would have to return to Nigeria with, as he puts it, "the political unrest and the quality of health care available" and blame Donald Trump. Too bad his argument falls apart under the slightest scrutiny.


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