From physician's office to small screen: An ENT's journey to becoming a COVID-19 compliance officer for television


Although the pandemic shut down her practice, Linda Dahl, MD, an ENT from New York, took a new opportunity to work as a COVID-19 compliance officer in Hollywood. She wrote about her experience in a column for the April 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine.

The last time Dr. Dahl worked at her office in New York City was March 17, 2020. Despite shifting to telemedicine, many of her patients who worked on Broadway left the city, and she let go of staff. Dr. Dahl then closed her practice in June 2020.

"I had suddenly become unnecessary," she wrote. "My sense of self largely emerged from my work, and I was a workaholic. Being forced to shut down at the peak of a pandemic was like being in the middle of a prize fight, only for my opponent to suddenly quit the fight and walk away."

In July, one of Dr. Dahl's patients told her his wife was hiring a COVID-19 compliance officer for the set of a television production. She accepted the job and oversaw a production with more than 300 crew members.

Dr. Dahl wrote about the challenges of adapting to her new role, from learning the evolving rules on COVID-19, to understanding the role and hierarchy of television crew members.

"As I quickly learned, television and medicine are very different, even though I sometimes felt like I was back in internship, suffering the constant anxiety of being expected to know what I was doing before I learned how to do the thing," she wrote. "In production, things happened instantly. Boundaries were bulldozed. Impossibilities were made possible, and everyone worked as a unit with an almost endless budget.

"In medicine, everything is slowed down. Technology is shunned; there are mountains of paperwork, and rules have to be meticulously followed for fear of violating HIPAA. The union of these two industries was full of bumps and roadblocks, and I was the shaky marriage counselor."

Production of the show wrapped with no shutdowns and no one getting COVID-19 on set. Dr. Dahl continued her work and is currently working on her fourth television production.

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