After eight years of devoting herself to House, Bergstrom reveals her hurt and disappointment at not being given her due.
Whether you were a fan of the show House or simply a casual viewer, you've seen Bobbin Bergstrom's influence on the medical drama. From the beginning of the show's run in 2004, through to this month’s finale, she was the on set med-tech adviser, a job that entailed overseeing the medical integrity of the action for each episode. Whether it was adjusting symptoms of the Patient of the Week to fit an illness or instructing the actors how to perform in the operating room, Bergstrom was an essential part of House's success.
The days are long on a hit television show. 12 to 14 hours make up the normal workday and Bergstrom worked those hours as well as doing research during her hiatus months in order to keep up with medical advances. Now after eight years and the end of the series, Bergstrom reveals she feels slighted, that although she found her work fulfilling, she never received the credit she was due. That hurt hit her hard when the House retrospective Swan Song aired on May 21 as the lead-in to the show's finale. “I was blatantly excluded by my House family [on that retrospective],” she told me in a long revelatory email. “ I saw every one of my friends speak and smile and that made me so happy for them. [I was] just confused by the seemingly deliberate exclusion.”
She went on to say that this treatment was nothing new and that it had grown worse through the years. “My issue is that the company did do a generous thing by giving me a role as a nurse (she was credited as “Nurse” at the end of each episode, regardless if she appeared on screen or not). I'm very grateful because that qualifies me for insurance and retirement. However, my position truly was that of medical technical adviser.” She never received that recognition officially. “A credit as technical adviser was more important to my resume than that of “Nurse” but they couldn't do that because of SAG rules. I asked for a second credit as the medical technical adviser so that the industry people would know that I was responsible for that portion of the show [but that credit never appeared onscreen].”
“We had three doctors who were actually story assistants to the writers but they'd been given credit on the show as medical technical advisers. They were never on the set. They didn’t touch or talk to the actors. They didn’t plan or work with any of the departments or prepare for an episode. Around Thanksgiving, on Fox's Twitter, I noticed an interview with John Sotos, one of these three consultants. He led [the readers] to believe that he was there directing the actors, doing my job. He referred to me by saying, ‘There's some nurse (no name) who sits on the set in case they have a question about pronunciation.’ Lisa Sanders, one of the other consultants, was featured on Martha Stewart’s show and presented herself as if she did what I did.
“In the beginning [House’s creator and Executive Producer] David Shore was very salty with me when I would question the medicine in the first draft of the scripts. He would say, “Our doctors have reviewed this.” And I would say, 'With all due respect, it's not correct or if perhaps I don't know something they know and I would love to receive the research they used to legitimize this diagnosis.' Nine times out of ten they would change the story to fit the corrections I stated. I'm quite sure that that is what helped legitimize the show in the eyes of the medical community.
“The retrospective would've been an opportunity for them to make sure that everybody knew I did my part so I didn't feel like I didn't get credit from the producers and writers. In addition to the personal insults and pain, this absolutely [will] cost me future work because the amount of people who want medical advisers for their shows in the industry is small. On the Internet Movie Database, I do come up as one of the most frequent actors on House and miscellaneous crew. [Only] sometimes does it say I'm a technical adviser. I guess I should revise that somehow.”