The Doctor

 

Changes to the USS Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram ( EMH ), known simply as the Doctor to the crew, are easily described in terms of additional megaquads and teraquads grafted to a heuristic matrix originally rated for 1500 hours continuous use.

The Doctor’s evolution may never have taken root if it were not for Kes. She treated the Doctor like another member of the crew and persuaded him to think likewise. Her support serves as a challenge for the Doctor to go beyond his original programming parameters. The Doctor’s first act of self-definition was the right to turn himself off. He soon develops changes to his subroutines to better serve the crew- like giving himself an illness to improve his bedside manner and creating a holographic family. He invented photonic treatments, visited the holodeck, and had his first experience with love and sex.

In 2373 the Doctor received an autonomous holoemitter, giving him the ability to travel outside sickbay and opening his mind to new interests.

Not every new experiment was successful or without pain. The Doctor’s long-winded lectures were dreaded, but dutifully attended. His attempt at psychiatric counseling in 2374 resulted in the death of an innocent Entharan. In 2375, his choice to save Harry Kim over Ensign Jetal, simply because Kim was a closer friend, created an ethical And cognitive subroutine feedback loop that almost permanently crashed his program.

Since no one on Voyager had experience with a sentient hologram, the Doctor believes he is forced to press for equal treatment and that he doesn’t always receive it. This belief leads the Doctor to decide to leave Voyager on two occasions - one with the Qomar and another with photonics insurgents. Both decisions are disastrous and the Doctor returns to Voyager. On another occasion, he does gain three years of life experience on a time-displaced planet, where he had a female companion and a ‘son’.

By 2376 the Doctor helped save Voyager from the Kazon and the Hirogen, and successfully engaged the Romulans. This leads to the belief that an Emergency Command Hologram ( ECH ) program- a back-up captain- be developed. In 2377 the ECH goes online, following a temporary crew evacuation, thus giving the Doctor his first duty of command on board Voyager- the first hologram in Starfleet with such authority.

That year the Doctor also spends a brief time living through Seven of Nine’s body, when he can taste food, drink and feel other sensations of the body for the first time. Not only were these experiences a revelation, they brought the Doctor and Seven closer. The Doctor’s affection and mentor-like relationship with Seven continues to evolve.