Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.
Today’s topic comes courtesy of Istvan: Was Frank a Bad Surgeon?
Competent or Inept
As Istvan pointed out when suggesting this topic, if Frank was such a terrible surgeon, how did the 4077th maintain its impressive survival rate? With just four doctors, it seems impossible that the other three could manage if Frank wasn’t at least competent as a surgeon. Hawkeye makes a lot of jokes about Frank’s surgical skills. There were also multiple examples of Frank making mistakes during triage or surgery. Frank himself explains in “The Sniper” how it took him twice as long to finish medical school because he flunked out twice.
Yet there are also a handful of references to Frank being good at his job. For example, in “Major Fred C. Dobbs,” Henry refers to Frank as “a fair, competent general surgeon.”
We know from “The Novocaine Mutiny” that Frank thinks highly of his skills as a surgeon. He clearly knew his way around most of the human body. He had a successful private practice before the war, although it may not have involved much surgery.
Do you think Frank was a terrible surgeon? Were Hawkeye and the other doctors at the 4077th talented enough to cover for his many mistakes? Or was Frank a competent surgeon who simply did not devote as much attention and energy to his patients as Hawkeye, Trapper, and the other surgeons?
Hit the comments with your thoughts.