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Doctor on Call

Posted on Mon Apr 8th, 2019 @ 3:33pm by Captain James McCullen & Lieutenant Joshua Miller M.D.

Mission: Route to Raeya
Location: Ready Room, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD1, 1800 Hrs

Captain James McCullen frowned down at his desk. For the first time in what had seemed like forever, it was mostly bereft of PaDDs, he had grown so accustomed to having stacks of them piled up with status reports, requests and notifications that it felt distinctly wrong to have a mere two. One of them was a status report from engineering on the condition of the new warp core, the other was a notification of an incoming officer, a Lieutenant Joshua Miller, the ship's new Chief Medical Officer, hastily assigned by Starfleet Command.

A quick check of the chronometer told him that the doctor had reported aboard at least a half hour ago, and he wondered where the man had gotten to. It was standard procedure to report to the captain, or at least the XO, which he would have rapidly heard about, as soon as possible after coming aboard.

This was the first time Doctor Miller was reporting to a ship's Captain as Chief Medical Officer. He felt confident that he was ready for the role but that didn't make him any less nervous. He wiped his palms, slightly sweaty thanks to his nerves, on his trousers before adjusting his uniform jacket and reaching out for the door chime.

McCullen looked up, setting the PaDD down on the desk before running a hand through his hair and calling "Enter," the door slid open to reveal an officer with the teal shoulders of medical and science. The captain assumed that this was the new chief medical officer and a quick glance down at the personnel file he had just been looking at confirmed his suspicion. "Ah, Doctor Miller, come in." He said warmly, pushing himself up from the desk and moving around to greet the doctor with an extended hand.

Joshua grasped the Captain's hand firmly and shook it. "Thank you, sir. Lieutenant Joshua Miller, reporting for duty." He'd been expecting to snap to attention and announce himself but Captain McCullen seemed a less formal than that, for which Joshua was relieved.

A firm handshake was always a good start and the captain gave the doctor an easy smile, "Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. Take a seat, do you prefer Doctor or Lieutenant Miller?" The captain offered, gesturing to the chair as he moved towards the replicator.

The nerves that Josh had been feeling were beginning to ease, in no small part thanks to the Captain's easy manner. The knot that had tied itself in his stomach had started to relax a little. "Either is fine, sir. I've worked hard to achieve both my title and my rank so I'm happy to be addressed by either."

"Then I'll stick with doctor if you don't mind." The captain replied, "tell me, what were you doing before you transferred to the Sentinel? Something to drink?"

It didn't take much thought for Joshua to decide what to have. "Mint tea, please. Sweet." Having provided the Captain with that information first, he then pivoted to answer the previous question. "Until five days ago I was Assistant Chief Medical Officer on the Kitty Hawk. She's a Defiant-class ship operating along the Tzenkethi border."

"Mmm, difficult species to deal with." McCullen mused as he ordered the mint tea and his own tea, a blend of Kenyan and assam black teas that his father had called proper tea, over to the table. The captain sat Joshua's tea down in front of the man and then lowered himself into his chair. "I'd like to know," the captain began, picking up the doctor's file and waving around slightly, "what this file isn't telling me. What kind of doctor are you, doctor?"

The question caught Josh off guard. He reached out and picked up his tea, blew it and took a sip. The tea was still a little too hot but it had bought him some time to formulate an answer. Finally drawing the cup away from his mouth he replied, "A good one." His confidence in that answer was no affect. "I'm a Doctor first and Starfleet Officer second. My first duty is to my patient and I'll sacrifice mission objectives in order to preserve life."

McCullen mentally raised an eyebrow, in his experience there were three kinds of doctors in Starfleet. The first were officers who happened to be doctors - they were generally efficient and duty-minded, getting people out of sickbay as fast as possible and back to duty. The second was the scientist, performing medicine was, for those people, less of an art and more of a scientific study. The third was the 'doc', the medical doctor who happened to be a Starfleet officer. Those kinds tended to be focused more on medical care, generally not giving much consideration to the rules and regulations of Starfleet when it came to their patients' needs. The third kind generally made the best doctors, and were also the biggest pains in the ass for XOs and COs to deal with. All of this ran through his head in the time it took him to sip at his tea.

"There are rare occasions when the missions we are given by command require sacrifice." McCullen countered, it was an ugly but necessary fact that there were times when in order to achieve missions, people had to die. Nobody liked to talk about it, but it was a burden every commanding and senior officer had to accept. It was a risk every Starfleet officer and crewman had to live with. "We do everything we can to avoid it, to mitigate it and to find ways around it, but it's a fact. Sometimes hard choices have to be made. If you ever find yourself in that situation, I'll expect you to do what has to be done for the good of the ship and the Federation. That's the price of being a senior officer, and you are a senior officer, Doctor Miller."

Josh considered the Captain's words, and his own response, carefully. He considered himself lucky thus far. While he'd lost patients and felt their loss deeply, he'd never been placed in the position of having to choose between the life of a patient and the success of a mission. He knew that it was only a matter of time until he found himself with that particular dilemma. "I understand that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, sir." He hated boiling medicine down to a numbers game. "I won't sacrifice five lives just to save one. But as far as I'm concerned my oath to 'do no harm' supersedes my oath to Starfleet."

The captain smiled, pleased with the response Josh had given. It was more or less what he had hoped for - honest and fair. "I can live with that, doctor. Hopefully, we won't have to put it to the test." He told the man, pausing to sip at his tea as he mentally changed gears. "You should know, almost all of the crew are new aboard. They're all going to need initial medical checks. I don't believe your predecessor Doctor Makarova had the chance to complete many of them before she was called away, so you're going to be extremely busy."

"I'm not afraid of a little hard work," Joshua told him. "I'll send out a reminder to all hands and those who don't come voluntarily will be dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary." He was only joking but in his experience, people hated visiting Sickbay, even just for a quick checkup. "Personally I prefer a more collegiate approach and not constantly be quoting medical regs but unfortunately peoples fear of Sickbay and medical professionals is deep seeded."

"You might want to get the department heads in first. You can enlist their help in scheduling their people to come in." McCullen suggested, "and then there's me and the XO. Technically we've already had our medical checks, but... leading by example and all that." The captain grinned, "just give me a time and day and I'll darken your doorway."

Joshua smiled as he took another long sip of his tea. "I appreciate that, Captain. It'll be good for the crew to see you leading the way. I'll be in touch with a time once I get settled in and I'll contact the other senior officers at the same time."

"Very well, Doctor Miller," McCullen replied, taking the cue to wrap things up. "The sickbay has only recently been installed, so there may be some bugs in the systems left to work out. Contact Lieutenant Hunter in engineering or Lieutenant Ross in operations if you need any work done."

Joshua was only too well aware of that fact. "We've already had an issue. Crewman Johnson received second degree burns from an exploding console. Nurse Chio and I tended to him and one of the ship yard engineers is working on the damage as we speak. I'll have him submit a report to Lieutenants Hunter and Ross and co-ordinate with them on any further issues that crop up going forward."

"Consoles exploding straight out of the shipyard is not what I want to hear," McCullen grumbled, making a mental note to look into it with the shipyard people. "I trust the crewman is all right now?"

Doctor Miller nodded. "Yes, sir. We're treating him with a combination of dermaline gel and the dermal regenerator. He'll be on his feet by the end of the day and back to full duty in a day or two."

"That's good news, at least." The captain responded, "well, doctor, thank you for your visit and let me know when you need myself and Mr. Bast to make an appearance." Jim stood, pushing himself upright and waiting for the doctor to follow suit.

Joshua stood. The meeting with the Captain felt like it had gone as well as he could have hoped. "Aye, sir." He snapped to attention for a moment before turning and striding out of the room, leaving the Captain to his work with a plan to return to his own.


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