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You Too Can Be a Tv Doctor

Jim is an accomplished writer with many great literary achievements, most of which he simply made up.


Your new career!

Ever since I read about a fascinating procedure called 'trephination', I have been thinking about becoming an unlicensed medical practitioner. Trephination, for those not familiar, is basically brain-surgery performed on unfortunate persons in ancient times -probably those without affordable health insurance.

This extremely complex procedure performed with crude instruments in primitive conditions can be traced back to ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians, Babylonians, and the Assyrians. And I am willing to bet, none of those guys had any medical training!

Having written this, I suddenly feel compelled to state that I am NOT considering performing any actual ‘trephinations’ in my backyard, lest I cause alarm in the authentic medical community, or incite panic amongst the general public. Potential clients may be disappointed to read this, as will tort lawyers hoping for lucrative class-action lawsuits.

Most of us would be squeamish at the prospect of having to do such a drastic thing. I'm also willing to bet, many of us could probably think of at least one or two persons we've known that wouldn't be hesitant at all to perform such a dire procedure.

You can probably 'see' them now in your head...

"Oh, that's nothing. Watch me!"


When you read my title, you probably scoffed at the prospect of being a doctor. I know what you're thinking; in most circles, being an unlicensed medical professional is frowned upon. For this reason I'd like to propose being a TV doctor.

Hear me out!

Everything I learned about being a doctor, I learned on television. Lest you think my research to be rudimentary, consider that I have had over forty years of watching television from which to draw my observations. This, in itself, should qualify me as a medical professional, of sorts.

This may seem a daunting career choice, until you watch enough TV.

Perhaps when you read my title, your first thought was, I can’t be serious? I know what I'm talking about. Now you see why..

You too can be a TV doctor!

Consider the following:

  • Most westerns had only one 'doc' per region, who knew less about medicine than your 6th grade science teacher.
  • 'Granny' Clampet from the Beverly Hillbillies had an avid medical practice without ever obtaining a medical degree. Her practice blossomed in affluential neighborhoods whenever she deemed medical intervention necessary, often against her patient's protests.
  • Gilligan and his fellow shipwrecked band of unfortunate crew mates were stranded for many 'seasons' on an uncharted island in the middle of national television, never once requiring a doctor. When the crew was finally rescued, the money they had saved from insurance premiums, they all became as wealthy as the Howells! -as a tragic side note, the Howells returned to discover they had lost all their fortune in one disastrous stock market trade and were now penniless. They were last seen living on a street corner in a posh California gated-community where Mrs. Howell was seen wearing a "will work for caviar" sign around her neck.
  • In most instances, when medical intervention was required, the patient was either dead or grasping at their last few dramatic seconds of life -the patient was usually penetrated by several arrows, shot up by a desperate gunman, or trampled by horses! A doctor was pointless in these cases.
  • Technically, all the doctor was needed for was to pronounce death; accompanied by a brief spat of dramatic music in the background as a somber voice intones, saying, "He's dead, Jim!"
  • If the character wasn't strong enough to make it without medical attention, they were probably 'weak' and not essential to the main plot line. The hero always managed to perform surgery on themselves, even when nearly dead, without a doctor.
  • Most medical emergencies on television could be resolved with a simple amputation.

Mrs. Howell was last seen wearing a "will work for caviar" sign around her neck.


Keep it simple!

Let's not complicate things here. Doctors on TV never need all those gadgets that clutter up most hospital scenes. Items required for surgery were limited to a bottle of whiskey, a pocket knife cauterized in the fire, and a stick for the patient to bite down on. Most surgeries were limited to about ten seconds of screen time, so actual medical expertise would only have prolonged the scene into the next commercial; thus most episodes could not be resolved in thirty minutes -minus the commercial breaks. This would infuriate the writers who would have to re-write the next scene. And believe me, you never want to piss off the writers!


"Where's Jim?! He was the main character last season?"

"Oh, you know... he pissed off the writers..."

"Oh? Well, that was stupid!"

"Yeah. They killed him off. It turns out the last ten seasons were all one big dream."

See what I mean?!

Simply rub your chin, scowl a bit, and say some sort of silly, medical-sounding gibberish. Then pull out your doctor's black bag and demand everyone leave the room.

Television is replete with similar examples of medical practice based on outdated medical science and technology. All you really need to practice is a doctor's black bag and a good bedside manner.

Why complicate things?

Simply rub your chin, scowl a bit, and say some sort of silly, medical-sounding gibberish. Treatments was always the same: let things run their course; infections, plagues, disease, gunshot wounds, etc. These could all be resolved usually between commercials, after a few intermittent scenes of prodigious sweating, delirious hallucinations, and excessive forehead-wiping with a wet rag.

More serious cases requiring medical attention could be handled simply by producing your doctor's black bag and demanding everyone leave the room.


  • Great parking spots at hospitals and clinics.
  • Free publicity. You are a recognized medial doctor. Who needs commercials?
  • You get to hog most of the great scenes. Ham it up!
  • Medical training is irrelevant. Your success will depend instead upon essentials like; are you 'hot", do you look great in a stethoscope, can you deliver short, clever little quips and one-liners, able to gasp in shock, and, insert frivolous dialogue into dire medical emergencies!
  • You get to flirt with all the cute nurses, while patients om gurneys with serious conditions suffer from your neglect. Enjoy!


  • Medical insurance will be astronomically high for you, especially if you really think you're a doctor.
  • Tort lawyers will lay awake at night and dream about you. They will count piles of cash instead of sheep as they dream happy dreams of lawsuits -no one is more eager to help people than lawyers; why else would they chase ambulances and spend countless hours on TV where they defend the 'little people' from corporations and other malefactors.
  • Medical pay for services rendered were pitiful; a few chickens, maybe a dramatic close-up scene, or, ...a heart-felt thank you. Those requiring medical service were always dirt-poor and unable to afford to pay you enough to pay off all your medical college' tuition, anyway.
  • The doctor always has this one cantankerous person they were required to argue with in every episode. Hope you enjoy pointless arguments with a scruffy imbecile!

Lawyers will lay awake at night and dream about you. They will count piles of cash instead of sheep as they dream happy dreams of lawsuits!


If you were stupid enough to take any medical advice from me, or actually need a written disclaimer to prevent you from inflicting grievous harm to yourself due to excessive stupidity, you should probably seek medical attention immediately, from a real doctor. Please, do not ingest this article or the computer you are reading it from.

© 2020 Jim Henderson

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