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Old September 14 2012, 02:35 AM   #1
V
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Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

I'm introducing Trek (all five shows) to a friend who started watching because of the JJ Abrams Trek XI.

Several members of my friend's family are actually registered nurses.

Thus when I explained that the NX-01 has *stewards* (that is, waiters) but Phlox has no medical staff and no nurses, my friend found this absurd.

Now, I did explain that in the pilot, the whole point was that they rushed out of spacedock then never turned around for two years for fear that they'd be grounded again by red tape if they did, that originally it was just a straightforward trip to the Klingon homeworld, and that they left in a hurry -- other episodes emphasize that they didn't even fully install all of their weapons yet (Reed had to install some of their phasers by hand on the fly).

Still, even for a short trip, its kind of silly that Phlox didn't take along any random nurses, even just grabbing whoever was on the space station's staff.

Seriously, the first ship out there, a crew of only 83 people, and some of them are *waiters*?

***Well then again its a crew of only 83 people so it probably doesn't need a large medical staff.

My friend conceded all of these points....for seasons 1 and 2.

but they returned to Earth at the end of season 2 and the end of season 3.

Does anyone remember seeing random extras playing nurses in seasons 3 and 4?

Nobody died in seasons 1 and 2 so there wasn't much need for nurses. Maybe during the Xindi arc when they took losses?

Granted, its a small crew so a small medical staff; but doesn't even one doctor need an extra pair of hands? Even on Voyager, once Kes left, the Doctor made Paris train as his nurse, pointing out that for some medical procedures he simply needed more than one pair of hands.

***my running theory is that similar to how Paris got trained-up as an unofficial nurse, that the idea was that Crewman Elizabeth Cutler was being set up as Phlox's assistant -- see "Two Days and Two Nights" -- but that this idea was dropped after the actress's sudden death.
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Old September 14 2012, 02:46 AM   #2
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Okay according to ye-olde Memory Alpha: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Cutler

Yes, it was a situation comparable to when the Voyager Doctor trained-up Paris as an interim medic.

There are episodes when Phlox and others state in dialogue that she's functioning as a "medic" (even though her actual job is in entomology, but hey, she's in the biology division blue-shirts so that's better than training up a security guard). And in "Two Days and Two Nights", she's officially being the acting-Doctor for the skeleton crew while Phlox is hibernating (though they point out she isn't that great at it and needs to wake up Phlox).

So my functional guess is that she was indeed intended to be the "nurse" character, they talk about her in interviews as his nurse, but when the actress died, out of respect they didn't want to kill off the character as well -- thus the explicit mention precisely once in early season 3 that Cutler is still alive. So I guess because the actress died she's just "in the other room".

Still, you'd think they'd have some extras helping Phlox in seasons 3 and 4.
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Old September 14 2012, 02:48 AM   #3
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

There were a few medical personnel glimpsed in the background from time to time. It wasn't specified whether they were nurses, technicians, or whatever.
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Old September 14 2012, 07:46 AM   #4
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Maybe they need less nurses than seems sensible because of all the magic equipment.
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Old September 14 2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Nurses aren't just apparatus. Their role is to deal with people, to assess their needs and evaluate their condition, to plan for their care, and to offer support and comfort. It's a job built around personal interaction and decision-making, and could not be replaced by machinery. More advanced equipment could perhaps explain fewer orderlies and medical technicians, but not fewer nurses.
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Old September 14 2012, 02:13 PM   #6
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Crewman Cutler was never referred to as a nurse, but as a "medic". I assumed a medic was like a first responder, someone with enough medical training to stabilize a patient in an emergency, but not a substitute for other medical personnel. A nurse has far more training. I don't believe we ever see Phlox do surgery or other complex procedures, but I suppose a medic could double as a technician who could help him.

It's convenient too that Phlox doesn't need much sleep. He's literally there all the time, which eliminates the need for shift changes. Still, Phlox seems a little too perfect. He's able to cure all kinds of stuff single-handedly and in a short amount of time that other entire medical teams can't cure. And this seems to happen in multiple episodes. (Dear Doctor, Augments, Observer Effect, etc)
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Old September 14 2012, 02:22 PM   #7
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

kythe wrote: View Post
Still, Phlox seems a little too perfect. He's able to cure all kinds of stuff single-handedly and in a short amount of time that other entire medical teams can't cure. And this seems to happen in multiple episodes.
Plug in "McCoy," "Crusher," "Pulaski," "Bashir," or "the EMH" and you wouldn't have to change a single other word in those sentences (well, except for the "he" in a couple of cases). It's just the nature of TV that the characters the series focuses on are the best around. That's why we focus on them instead of the less capable characters somewhere else.
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Old September 14 2012, 02:38 PM   #8
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Regarding the use of equipment onboard, Starfleet might aim to replace nurses and support staff with machinery so that the ship would have less people to keep alive - or to replace the doctor with machinery so that medicine could be handled by a bunch of generalist mechanics who'd also be doing everything else through expert machines. Both approaches make sense for spaceflight where manpower chiefly means unnecessary expenses.

Starfleet certainly believes in generalists, as evidenced by the background extras wearing multiple "hats" (differently color-coded uniforms) and being seen doing a wide range of things. OTOH, Starfleet doesn't leave specialists ashore: there's a dedicated doctor, a dedicated weapons specialist, a dedicated communicator and so forth. Hoshi Sato would be the first to go in a "realistic" scenario, as she's but translation software on legs and the legs take up unnecessary room... So we can assume either that Starfleet doesn't need to be that stingy and can afford the legs, or that Starfleet can't do the software without the wetware yet. And IMHO we're better off assuming the former. Phlox could be an affordable optional extra as well, then.

As for medical work not being teamwork... Well, it isn't. If a cure pre-exists, a single hero can look it up in the database. If a cure evades our heroes, it will be found by gathering data from the patient and letting the computer mull it over, after which a single hero can look it up. And in Trek, the gathering of data is done by waving a device over the patient or placing him or her on a table - which is inherently far less manpower-intensive than the taking of blood or urine samples (and never mind more demanding tissue samples, perhaps from within) or listening for various vital signs. Really, the medical staff should consist of a platoon of grunts who simply drag the patients to the machine that does it all, plus the one competent operator of that machine (and her Beta and Gamma shift backups), just like we see!

...Excluding all the old-fashioned surgery needed to reattach severed limbs and close up bodies opened by various calamities. But for some reason (well, an obvious one), we never see those in Trek. Perhaps a patient in need of such surgery is automatically placed inside a proper surgery machine ASAP, as it is understood that no doctor is capable of the speed and precision of a machine in that application?

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Old September 14 2012, 04:07 PM   #9
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Christopher wrote: View Post
kythe wrote: View Post
Still, Phlox seems a little too perfect. He's able to cure all kinds of stuff single-handedly and in a short amount of time that other entire medical teams can't cure. And this seems to happen in multiple episodes.
Plug in "McCoy," "Crusher," "Pulaski," "Bashir," or "the EMH" and you wouldn't have to change a single other word in those sentences (well, except for the "he" in a couple of cases). It's just the nature of TV that the characters the series focuses on are the best around. That's why we focus on them instead of the less capable characters somewhere else.

Hmmm, given McCoy's claim to fame in pop culture is saying "he's dead, Jim," I'm not sure this is accurate.
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Old September 14 2012, 04:08 PM   #10
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Possible explanations:

1) The producers were too lazy to write for more recurring characters than they absolutely had to.
2) They were more interested in paying for explosion-y effect shots than speaking roles.
3) After seven years of the EMH, who literally didn't need to sleep or rest, they flat-out forgot that a ship should have more than one person in sickbay.
4) Some combination of the above.


There's no question that there should have been visible nurses/medics/what-have-you. A missed opportunity, like the missing Neb crew in the Matrix sequels. We get, what, a complement of eight in the first movie, then just four afterwards? Lame.
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Old September 14 2012, 04:14 PM   #11
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Phlox has eels, leeches, bloodworms, and other various critters to heal people with. If those don't work he'll lube you up and give you a massage in that decon chamber. Who needs a nurse?
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Old September 15 2012, 01:36 AM   #12
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Wow R. Star. You'd rather be lubed and massaged by Phlox than a nurse?

How very interesting.
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Old September 15 2012, 02:45 AM   #13
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

Your powers of observation are magnificent Teacake
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Old September 15 2012, 03:25 AM   #14
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

That was spoken rhetorically, but if that mental image makes you happy enjoy it.

Really though... a scene where Reed and Trip are in that decon chamber together and Phlox enthusastically expects them to lube each other up would be sorta funny. Convienent how Hoshi or T'Pol were ALWAYS in there.
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Old September 15 2012, 03:40 AM   #15
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Re: Did Phlox ever have a nurse in any season?

That is very true.

They could have at least pretended to cater to slash like DS9 did.
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