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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old January 23 2013, 07:38 PM   #1
Mister Atoz
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What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

I have been troubled in recent weeks by Doctor McCoy's continuing presence on the bridge, when he should be in sickbay. This becomes particularly aggregious in "Who Mourns for Adonis" when the Enterprise has been stopped in space by the giant hand. An SOS message has been relayed to Starfleet, damage control reports are coming in, and there's McCoy on the bridge, saying "Sick Bay reports five minor injuries, all being treated."

WELL??? Why aren't you IN sickbay, McCoy, treating those injuries??

McCoy seems to spend more time on the bridge counseling/coaching Captain Kirk than he does practicing medicine in sick bay.

It happens again in Squire of Gothos, after the crew has beamed back up to the ship. The Enterprise is dodging the planet Gothos, Kirk is on the bridge when he decides to confront Trelane, and suddenly McCoy leaps out of literally nowhere with "Captain, you're not beaming down!!??"

What the devil? I would welcome any other examples of sitings of this intrusive medical officer on the bridge at inappropriate times, in dereliction of duty.

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Old January 23 2013, 07:44 PM   #2
plynch
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Making for better TV drama.
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Old January 23 2013, 07:49 PM   #3
Greg Cox
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Clearly, Nurse Chapel deserved a raise.

Or maybe Dr. M'Benga was on-duty on those occasions.
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Old January 23 2013, 07:54 PM   #4
Timo
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

I can see why the first sort of situation would reflect badly on the doctor. But what's wrong with the second sort? It's not as if McCoy would have work to do elsewhere.

On the other hand, the pilot episode introduced us to the Starfleet desire to observe the psychological well-being of its deep space crews. McCoy is an expert in space psychology ("Court Martial"); perhaps, just like Spock combined the jobs of XO and SO under one brilliant head, McCoy provided Starfleet with the services of both Dr. Dehner and Dr. Piper on one salary?

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Old January 23 2013, 07:57 PM   #5
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Why would he need to be in sickbay for a few minor injuries? A ship of four hundred likely has physicians on duty around the clock.
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Old January 23 2013, 07:59 PM   #6
Greg Cox
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Plus, given the tendency of consoles on the bridge to explode, you probably need a full-time doctor stationed there!
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Old January 23 2013, 08:22 PM   #7
Melakon
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Mister Atoz wrote: View Post
WELL??? Why aren't you IN sickbay, McCoy, treating those injuries??
I once had to be ambulanced to the emergency room for a broken leg in a street accident. The chief surgeon of the hospital never showed up during those 4 or 5 days.
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Old January 23 2013, 08:32 PM   #8
C.E. Evans
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

As chief medical officer, McCoy might be required to monitor the bridge crew during various situations and then file his evaluations to Starfleet.

I actually think it's good that McCoy isn't in sickbay all the time because it suggests that he isn't the only doctor onboard, even if we don't see the other ones. I doubt that sickbay is only open when the CMO is there.

Plus, he's McCoy--he can go anywhere on the ship he wants. But when there's something big going down, you bet you'll find him in sickbay.
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Old January 23 2013, 08:54 PM   #9
sonak
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

I've always thought this was a silly point in TOS, and was glad they fixed it with Dr. Crusher in TNG, who mostly does appropriate medical things, she doesn't hang out with the captain on the bridge. Just another thing, like Kirk constantly beaming down with away teams, that looks silly when you think about it.
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Old January 23 2013, 09:16 PM   #10
jayrath
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

sonak wrote: View Post
I've always thought this was a silly point in TOS, and was glad they fixed it with Dr. Crusher in TNG, who mostly does appropriate medical things, she doesn't hang out with the captain on the bridge. Just another thing, like Kirk constantly beaming down with away teams, that looks silly when you think about it.
Yes, but in TNG, Troi was always on the bridge -- likely for some of the same reasons, to keep an eye on the emotional well-being of the command crew.

Dramatically, it's the reason why the ship's doctor has such a key role in "Mister Roberts," and why Doc always hung around the jail in "Gunsmoke." They're useful characters when a writer needs a sounding board for others, someone who can cut through rank. (Heck, even Rob Petrie's neighbor was a dentist, as was Bob Hartley's collegaue down the hall. These docs are everywhere! )
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Old January 23 2013, 09:25 PM   #11
BoredShipCapt'n
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

There was a passing reference to this in the short story "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited," from one of those New Voyages volumes.

Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley are accidentally transported from the studio set to the real Enterprise and they have to pose as their real-life counterparts for a while. There's a scene where Kelley takes up his usual position on the bridge "wondering, not for the first time, whether the doctor had any business there." Or words to that effect.
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Old January 23 2013, 09:56 PM   #12
kirsten187
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

I hadn't realised a ship of that size only had one member of staff in sickbay. How stupid of me thinking there would be more than one doctor and some nurses too. I must be thinking of something else.
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Old January 23 2013, 10:06 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

Well, how many MDs would you find practicing in a village of 430 people in general? Or a mine or relatively isolated factory of that size?

Sure, a military vessel might benefit from having a backup for such a key operator. But not everybody can have a backup, or the crew size would balloon. OTOH, the ship can accommodate "A&A officers" and similar drones, suggesting accommodation space or food isn't really at a premium and additional personnel could easily be carried, which makes the existence of the likes of M'Benga plausible. Said existence isn't necessary, though.

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Old January 23 2013, 10:18 PM   #14
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

sonak wrote: View Post
I've always thought this was a silly point in TOS, and was glad they fixed it with Dr. Crusher in TNG, who mostly does appropriate medical things, she doesn't hang out with the captain on the bridge. Just another thing, like Kirk constantly beaming down with away teams, that looks silly when you think about it.
I simply liked having McCoy on the bridge. If Crusher had been a stronger character it would've been a crime to keep her down in sickbay.

In universe, at that stage of his career McCoy is likely more in an administrative position that doesn't require him in sickbay constantly.
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Old January 23 2013, 10:19 PM   #15
Pauln6
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Re: What the hell is McCoy doing on the bridge?

I assumed that they had one surgeon for each shift plus specialists so Helen Noel as a psychiatrist may or may not supervise sick bay in a crunch depending on her general medical experience. They probably have a pathologist too and it's debatable to what extent there is integration with life sciences so you might have bio-physicists, biologists, exo/astro-biologists, virologists, and geneticists etc on the research side of the medical team.

It's also worth noting that if Chapel became a fully qualified MD by the time of TMP then should would actually have been a trainee doctor rather than a nurse for pretty much the whole time she was in TOS.

And finally, the doctors are also officers, and would no doubt be given tasks to do as officers that have no bearing on their medical training. Being on the bridge as a general advisor would probably fall into this category.
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