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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old October 12 2013, 06:13 PM   #1
CoveTom
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Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

So we know that sometime between TOS and TMP, Christine Chapel went to medical school and became a doctor. Apparently, she was going to be Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise under Captain Decker, before Kirk took command and "drafted" McCoy back into service.

My question is... Was this a good choice for her character? I can understand what Roddenberry was trying to do. He wanted to break out of the traditional "the men are the doctors, the women are the nurses" roles that had been portrayed in TOS. And, of course, he wanted to make sure Majel Barrett had something substantial to do in the film as well. But does it actually send the wrong message?

Nursing is an important profession unto itself. It is not just a "stepping stone" to becoming a doctor. The vast, vast majority of nurses never to medical school to become doctors. And it's certainly not a "lesser" profession. Doctors and nurses play different roles, but both are equally important.

Did having Chapel being "promoted" to doctor actually send the wrong message about the importance of nurses?

Thoughts?
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Old October 12 2013, 06:53 PM   #2
Peach Wookiee
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

I don't think it was a bad thing. Sometimes a doctor needs another doctor.
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Old October 12 2013, 07:01 PM   #3
Sran
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

CoveZombie wrote: View Post
So we know that sometime between TOS and TMP, Christine Chapel went to medical school and became a doctor.
Not to be nitpicky, but medical school lasts four years. Chapel was likely already enrolled as a medical student sometime during the five-year mission, as the two-and-a-half years that elapsed between TOS and TMP would not have been enough time for her to complete her degree.

CoveZombie wrote:
Did having Chapel being "promoted" to doctor actually send the wrong message about the importance of nurses?
I don't think so. For starters, it's never made clear why Chapel opted for the career change. Maybe becoming a physician was what she always wanted but never had the opportunity until she'd spent several years as a nurse. Maybe she realized she wanted a different role in patient care because of her work with McCoy. If one takes the time to look at age trends of people who attend medical school, the average age of enrollment is increasing. It's not twenty two or twenty three. It's twenty seven and rising.

I was twenty two when I started medical school, but there are fewer people like me around now than there were several decades ago.

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Old October 12 2013, 07:23 PM   #4
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Sran wrote: View Post
CoveZombie wrote: View Post
So we know that sometime between TOS and TMP, Christine Chapel went to medical school and became a doctor.
Not to be nitpicky, but medical school lasts four years. Chapel was likely already enrolled as a medical student sometime during the five-year mission, as the two-and-a-half years that elapsed between TOS and TMP would not have been enough time for her to complete her degree.
--Sran
It might've been in a universe where Uhura can be mind-wiped by Nomad yet shortly return to being a Starfleet officer.
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Old October 12 2013, 08:01 PM   #5
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Corran Horn wrote: View Post
It might've been in a universe where Uhura can be mind-wiped by Nomad yet shortly return to being a Starfleet officer.
I thought about that. But even if Chapel were to have completed her degree in that timespan, I have a hard time believing she'd immediately receive the position of CMO on a vessel with a crew as diverse as the one Decker put together. Christopher's Ex Machina states that the refit Enterprise had the most diverse crew of any in Starfleet history until Will Riker's USS Titan crew surpassed it. The novels aren't cannon, of course, but what is cannon is the inordinate number of alien species seen on the rec deck of Enterprise watching the V'Ger footage.

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Old October 12 2013, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Peach Wookiee wrote: View Post
I don't think it was a bad thing. Sometimes a doctor needs another doctor.
True. And we've seen that there's more than one doctor aboard the Enterprise. TOS had M'Benga. TNG had Selar. But that doesn't mean it had to be Chapel.

In fact, if Roddenberry and Barrett had wanted to cement her status as an important member of the crew, I think it would have made more sense for McCoy, when he was drafted, to have specifically requested her to be his head nurse, thus bringing them back together. Nothing that she did in TMP required her to be a doctor. She could have been a nurse and had the exact same lines of dialogue.
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Old October 12 2013, 10:23 PM   #7
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Chapel was involved with "Bio-research" before joining Starfleet. It's possible she was on her way to a doctorate at that time.
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Old October 13 2013, 12:30 AM   #8
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

CoveZombie wrote: View Post
In fact, if Roddenberry and Barrett had wanted to cement her status as an important member of the crew, I think it would have made more sense for McCoy, when he was drafted, to have specifically requested her to be his head nurse, thus bringing them back together.
Interesting you should put it this way, because who's to say that's not what actually happened? We don't actually know that Chapel was assigned to Enterprise. She's part of the all-crew assembly on the recreation deck, but she may have come aboard due to orders issued by Kirk or Nogura rather than because Decker asked for her. If McCoy had a hand in bringing her back, he may have thought she was still a nurse and found out she'd finished medical school in his absence. That would explain his line to Kirk in the transporter room.

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Old October 13 2013, 08:01 AM   #9
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Just because its 4 years for medical school now doesn't mean that it will be 4 years in the future.
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Old October 13 2013, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

I've always wondered about Chapel's involvement in TMP. It seems strange, as she's basically bumped up to doctor but doesn't really do anything more than she already did in TOS (of course, Phase II might have intended to use the character more thoroughly -- TMP was only the pilot episode after all).

The same with Rand. It's nice to see the lovely Grace Lee, but she's kinda a cameo isn't she? So is Chapel. It's a bit like TMP is trying to appeal to the fanbase, maybe a bit like those television reunion show specials. You know the sort of thing: "Hey look folks, the whole gang's back together again! Even Janice Rand is here!".
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Old October 13 2013, 01:09 PM   #11
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Remember that Chapel was only aboard in TOS because the ship was going to be near the area where her fiance, Dr Korby, vanished. She was already studying for her doctorate, and perhaps took the lower nurse position that was vacant.

And, yes, according to the script of "In Thy Image", Rand was to have more to do in "Phase II". She is even scripted to relieve Uhura at Communications in one scene.
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Old October 13 2013, 04:07 PM   #12
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
Just because its 4 years for medical school now doesn't mean that it will be 4 years in the future.
If we're to believe Dr. Selar, medical school is actually longer in the future. There's dialogue in one of the NF novels specifying that a degree from Starfleet Medical requires six years of study.

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Old October 13 2013, 04:12 PM   #13
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

Lance wrote: View Post
It's a bit like TMP is trying to appeal to the fanbase, maybe a bit like those television reunion show specials. You know the sort of thing: "Hey look folks, the whole gang's back together again! Even Janice Rand is here!"
Which is actually one of the reasons why the film is criticized. As much as fans liked seeing the crew reunited, a lot of people have since observed that TMP suffers from trying to make it appear as though only a short amount of time has passed since the end of the five-year mission. The problem is that over ten years have passed for the actors. The cast was clearly aging. Shatner had a toupee.

Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer decided that aging was one of the themes they would embrace for the second film because it fit more with where the actors themselves were in their lives and was a much easier sell for the audience.

--Sran
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Old October 13 2013, 04:19 PM   #14
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

In all fairness, Shatner had a toupee long before TMP.
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Old October 13 2013, 05:42 PM   #15
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Re: Should Chapel Have Become a Doctor?

I always figured it was something like Chapel being a med student, and the opportunity to serve on Enterprise as a nurse came up and she decided to take it and finish school after the five year mission.
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