Welcome to the first in a series of articles wherein I attempt to build the ideal crew for a ship, using characters from the many variations of Star Trek. To be a candidate, all you need is to be a series regular on one of Star Trek‘s TV incarnations, from The Original Series onwards. Space is a dangerous place, so we’re going to start with that old stalwart: The ship’s chief medical officer.
Candidate 1: Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
McCoy is a frontier doctor, quick to adapt to new circumstances and bringing a balance of old-fashioned wisdom and cutting edge solutions. He’s known to be calm under pressure, showing no fear even when the legendary Khan Noonien Singh holds a scalpel to his throat. However, his old-fashion ways go beyond mere wisdom, and into his behaviour, which could charitably be labelled problematic. There is a documented case of McCoy slapping a pregnant woman, and his workplace banter with fellow officers can cross into racist remarks about Vulcans. A good doctor he may be, but perhaps not one you should invite to formal occasions.
Candidate 2: Beverly Crusher
Crusher is a prime example of the ‘just get on with it’ attitude that serves Starfleet personnel so well. It’s not easy being chief medial officer to the federation’s flagship. Nor is it easy to be a single mother. Yet Crusher pulls off both simultaneously. More so than anyone else on this list, Crusher has mastered her work/life balance. There is a potential conflict of interest regarding her unresolved sexual tension with her commanding officer, but generally speaking Crusher can be trusted to do her job with minimal fuss.
Candidate 3: Katherine Pulaski
Doctor Pulaksi has limited experience serving on a starship, and appears ill-suited for the role. Her concerns regarding the safety of transporter technology are warranted given famous examples of the technologies favour, and should perhaps have been heeded sooner. Pulaksi’s blunt, no-nonsense style recalls the earlier McCoy. However, her distrust of androids is more open, becoming a problem on more than one occasion. Pulaksi is a competent medical professional, but is perhaps better suited to planetside service than a shipboard role.
Candidate 4: Julian Bashir
Though at first glance he appears too young and inexperienced, Bashir has experience beyond his years. Yes, there may be issues if he grows too attached to his patients, but Bashir has served on the frontiers of medicine in times of peace and on the front line of the Dominion War. This experience makes him a strong candidate for ship’s physician. However, his personal life can be messy, and rumours of ties to secret organisations and genetic engineering cast doubt on an otherwise stellar career.
Candidate 5: The EMH (Voyager model)
Don’t get me wrong, the Emergency Medical Hologram programme is an excellent idea, and one that should be instituted on every starship. However, Voyager‘s EMH shows the dangers of running this programme full-time for seven years. Sentience was not expected, and raises all manner of moral implications. Furthermore, the fully-aware EMH can be, to put it bluntly, annoying. Limited to either holodecks or mobile emiiters, there are also practical issued to be taken into consideration. An encyclopedic knowledge of all things medical is a great boon, but the EMH should perhaps be reserved for emergencies, or kept as a consultant.
Candidate 6: Phlox
A pioneer of early spacefaring medicine, this affable Denobulan proved an invaluable member of the ship’s crew, and more than up to the task of handling the numerous ethical dilemmas a ship’s doctor will face. In addition, his species’ natural ability to go long periods without sleep grants an almost guaranteed 24/7 medical coverage. For the three days he must sleep, however, a crew must presumably fend for itself. there is also the small issue of his exploration of alternative medicine, which results in his sickbay become something of a petting zoo.
Candidate 7: Hugh Culber
Culber is something of an enigma. Though not the chief medical officer of his vessel, he remains the individual turned to in medical emergencies. Culber has repeatedly proven himself a capable officer, as good a counsellor as he is a surgeon. Nevertheless, questions must be asked over his miraculous return from the dead following an extended sojourn in the mycelial network that may still prove to have long-term side-effects.
Candidate 8: T’Ana
The grouchy Catian chief medical officer of the USS Cerritos shows no respect for either her patients or the uniform she is sworn to. Despite this, her record is strong, and any errant behaviour may be chalked up to personal habits. While not the easiest person to work with, she is no doubt qualified for the task at hand.
Honorable Mention 1: Chapel
Nurse Chapel is perhaps even more unflappable than McCoy. However, her softer side is pronounced, often to the detriment of her work. Her obvious unrequited adoration for the ship’s first officer also has the potential to cause issues.
Honorable Mention 2: Alyssa Ogawa
A nurse with several years experience alongside both Pulaski and Crusher, Ogawa is a familiar presence in the sickbay, proving to be both a capable assistant, and a viable replacement for the ship’s doctor when they are not presence
Honorable Mention 3: Kes
By the age of five, the Ocampan empath Kes has already proven her value to any crew. With the ability to soothe any situation and handle even the most difficult patients, Kes is a valuable addition to a ship’s sickbay. however, her growing psychic powers do pose a potential threat, and should be monitored closely.
Honorable Mention 4: D’Vana Tendi
What Ensign Tendi lacks in experience, she make sup for with enthusiasm. Guaranteed to be the heart of any medical team, Tendi has a bright career ahead of her. Without proper guidance, however, that career is likely to be cut short by misadventure.
There are a lot of worthy candidates here, but if I were going to pick one, it would be Julian Bashir. He’s a solid presence, easy to get along with, and his wartime experience just edges him past Crusher for the top spot. In an ideal world, the ship in question would also have an EMH for situations in which Bashir is incapacitated. the fact that he was selected for a potential newer model of EMH could cause problems, but it’s a risk worth taking. For additional medical staff, I would pick Ogawa as chief nurse, and Ensign Tendi as a trainee.