Sickbay is the emotional hub of every Star Trek series, a place where characters go for both physical and mental help. But the ship’s doctors would have an exceedingly difficult time without the dedicated support staff making sure the hyposprays are full, the medical tricorders are charged, and holding things together both literally and figuratively.
“Every day is one more accomplishment,” the nurses’ motto proclaims. As March 19th is National Certified Nurses Day, let’s take a moment to remember some of the brave nurses of the Star Trek Universe who help keep the medical facilities up and running, and the patients on their feet.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nurse Tagana (Patricia Tallman) - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Although Nurse Tagana is only known for expertly treating an unconscious Jake Sisko before being knocked out by Onya’s psionic energy in “The Muse,” she gets an honorable mention.Even though she only appeared uncredited in the episode, stunt woman Patricia Tallman was still mentioned on screen with a character name. Plus she’d worked behind the camera in the stunts department on three Star Trek series, multiple fandom properties (from Jurassic Park to Night of the Living Dead), and later she went on to play Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5.
6. Crewman Elizabeth Cutler (Kellie Waymire) - Star Trek: Enterprise
In Starfleet’s early days, starship crew complement was limited, so it wasn’t unusual for crewmembers to work multiple departments. Crewman first class Elizabeth Cutler starting off as an entomologist on the NX-01, and expanded her capacity to in-training medic helping out Dr. Phlox. She assisted with the dual species evolution on Valakis, and when Phlox entered his yearly hibernation cycle she was put in charge of the ship’s medical needs. Plus, if not for her burgeoning romantic interest in Phlox, viewers never would have learned about Denaubulan marital practices and social norms, which arguably helped pave the way for growing human acceptance of other cultures.
5. Nurse Jabara (Ann Gillespie) - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Dealing with the multitude of races that passed through space station Deep Space Nine was no easy task, especially with injuries resulting from the post-Cardassian occupation and the Dominion War. Fortunately, Dr. Bashir had Nurse Jabara assisting in his sickbay. A member of the Bajoran Militia, Jabara was instrumental in helping battle the aphasia virus in the station’s early days, helped Bashir deal with Garak’s brain implant, assisted Vedek Bareil when he was severely injured, and looked after Bashir when he was subdued by a Lethean. So important was she to the doctor, that his subconscious brain used her appearance to represent the right hand of his skill and professionalism when he was trapped in a mental illusion.
4. Kes (Jennifer Lien) - Star Trek: Voyager
Voyager’s Holographic Doctor had no permanent staff to help him light years from Federation Space, and Tom Paris’ preliminary knowledge of mere first aid quickly proved lacking, so an assistant with more finesse was necessary to keep the crew in good health. Kes, the recent Ocampan addition to the crew, stepped up. Possessing an eidetic memory, she committed to as much study and training as possible, quickly becoming the EMH’s perfect aide. She helped with minor injuries, was able to perform on the spot medical support, and allowed the Doctor to deactivate so he didn’t have to be on all the time. She was directly responsible for getting the Doctor to improve his bedside manner, having no qualms about pointing out how abrasive and brusque he could with patients. And she may be one of the few people to give an AI a cold to teach it a lesson in empathy!
3. Nurse Alyssa Ogawa (Patti Yasutake) - Star Trek: The Next Generation/Generations/First Contact
Although there were a plethora of nurses helping with the day to day operations of Dr. Crusher’s sickbay most were off-screen. But later years of the journey saw Alyssa Ogawa taking forefront nurse duties. Whether helping with medical scans, assisting in saving a Trill visitor, or providing amniotic fetal fluid to save the crew from the de-evolution virus, Ogawa routinely went above and beyond the call of duty. She had a full life aboard the Enterprise-D, enjoying the company of junior officers Lavelle, Taurik, and Sito, plus she started a family on-ship, marrying boyfriend Lieutenant Powell. In an alternate universe, she was even the Chief Medical Officer (much to Crusher’s surprise). Oddly, Ogawa first appeared as part of Riker’s illusionary future fantasy created by the alien Barash, making her real-life posting to the ship almost prophetic.
2. Crewman Martinez (Michael Braveheart) - Star Trek: The Next Generation/First Contact/Insurrection
Crewman Martinez started off working on the Enterprise-D’s bridge, but shortly thereafter moved to sickbay, dealing with practically every crisis faced on the seven-year mission. He helped crew members with headaches, dealt with corpses, did blood evaluations, quarantined the sick, examined the Borg Hugh, treated the Captain when he was under the influence of the Kataan probe, assisted when Thomas Riker was beamed aboard, stabilized Picard when his artificial heart was damaged, defended the Enterprise-E from the Borg attack, and helped the Bak’u refuges just to name a few! Chances are, if there was anything that required the medical staff, Martinez was there! Played by background actor Michael Braveheart, Martinez appeared in eighty-four episodes of TNG and two films, and was completely uncredited for all his appearances. That’s dedication.
1. Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry) - Star Trek: The Original Series/The Animated Series/The Motion Picture/The Voyage Home
There is no nurse more famous than Christine Chapel, who served under Dr. McCoy on Kirk’s Enterprise. Chapel was more than a face in sickbay, she grew to embody the no-nonsense self-possessed woman of the era (both the 1960s and the 2260s). In Roddenberry’s own words she was, “a woman capable of startling vitality.” Through the course of her many adventures, she took care of the mental health of the crew, was promoted to Head Nurse, assistant in multiple operations, cared for the orphans of the Starnes Exploration Party, and was even acting Chief Medical Officer when the male members of the crew were entranced by the Sirens song of the Taurean System. Her contributions to Starfleet continued long after the Enterprise’s initial five-year mission, being assigned to the refitted ship and later working at Starfleet Headquarters coordinating relief efforts in response to mysterious Whale probe. And through it all she knew how to make a fine Plomeek soup, even if it did end up on the wall of the sickbay corridor.
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox (he/him) has written for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood. Follow his rarely used Twitter account @TaVork.