07/25/2013 05:27 EDT | Updated 07/26/2013 11:50 EDT

Hard Rock Medical: From Paintbrush to Scalpel

scalpel in a hand with rubber...


TVO's first commissioned drama series, Hard Rock Medical, provides a fresh and entertaining look at the unique challenges of delivering healthcare in Northern Ontario. Hard Rock Medical follows the lives of eight medical students, their struggles to succeed, and the obstacles they face in adapting to practising rural medicine and living in the North. Patrick McKenna heads a Canadian ensemble cast in this series airing Sundays at 8 pm, from June 9 to August 25 and at

The views expressed in TVO's Hard Rock Medical blog series are solely the opinion of the cast and filmmakers.

When I initially picked up the script for Hard Rock Medical the first thing that jumped off the page for me was that this is not your ordinary medical series. Not only does it tackle the realities of becoming a doctor in Northern Ontario, but it also has something very unique going for it...this show explores the characters before they even enter the hospital. Every other medical drama out there is dealing with what goes on day-to-day, night-to-night in a hospital setting. This show gives us a glimpse of how the doctors get there.

My character on the show, Cameron Cahill, was an intriguing role to start exploring. I gravitated towards Cameron because he is the black sheep; the question mark; the enigma of the show. I sat down with the show's creators, Derek Diorio and Smith Corindia, before we started filming, and we discussed how we would uncover Cameron's layers over the course of the series: What brought this gifted artist to medical school? How did he learn anatomy from his paintbrush and charcoal? Why turn down the free ride his father offered him?

Cameron has an obsession with, a passion for, and an addiction to art. So when he enters med-school for the first time, he is coming at it with a very specific knowledge of anatomy. He sees the world differently and for Cameron, this is a gift and a burden. This gives a beautiful palette of emotions and circumstances to draw from as an actor. Being an artist myself, it wasn't hard to tap into why he does what he does. He likes a challenge, was born with a purpose and wants to convey the beauty of humanity in his own unique way.

Hard Rock Medical welcomes the audience into the world of providing health care in Northern Ontario. In the first season and subsequently first year of school, the faculty throws the students into the deep end: working with human cadavers; participating in real world field trips; and facing the emotional realities of what actually goes on with a patient. I guess I was most fascinated with the patient aspect of it all. You can study anatomy text books, ace every exam and be the smartest person in your class, but if you don't know how to speak and relate to another human being, then all that other stuff is just accolades. I think that's where Cameron feels he has something to offer... because sometimes all you need to provide is your attention.

This show is different. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. It has a smart script, it has heart, and it reminds us of how important doctors are. How, without them, we would live in a very different place. Some people in the world don't have the privilege to receive the medical attention they deserve, but it's the people who go through these schools - who invest the time, money, and blood, sweat and tears - that will one day be able to help those people in need. Hard Rock Medical takes viewers to the North, through the doors of an unconventional anatomy lab and into the lives of eight medical students just trying to make a difference, one patient at a time.

Jamie Spilchuk in TVO's Hard Rock Medical