The Virginian (1962–1971)
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Doctor Pat 

TV-PG | | Western | Episode aired 1 March 1967
Dr. Spaulding decides to hire another doctor to help share the load but he is unsure whether the attractive female doctor he is sent will work out. The Virginian takes a strong interest in her and her problems as she tries to adapt.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Grainger (credit only)
Trampas (credit only)
Elizabeth Grainger (credit only)
Jill Donohue ...
Doctor Patricia O'Neill
Marie Coulter
John Bryant ...
Charles Coulter (as Donald Barry)
Jean Inness ...
Mrs. Anderson
Mr. Bates
Jacqueline Mayo ...
Nora Spalding
Bobby Buntrock ...
Tim Bates


Dr. Spaulding has requested a doctor to be sent by his mentor at medical school to help with his practice. When he doesn't see Dr. Pat O'Neill on the train, he leaves but The Virginian meets the new doctor when she comes to the aid of young Tim Bates who knocks his shoulder out of joint when he falls off a wagon. Unknown to Dr. Spaulding Dr. O'Neill is really Dr. Patricia O'Neill. Dr. Spaulding is unsure whether a female doctor will be accepted but his wife pushes him to hire her. She encounters resistance from the community being a woman especially after Tim Bates continues to fake a continuing injury to get out of school and chores. The Virginian gives her some insight on how to treat Tim's condition. Her job is on the line when she does an emergency operation on a woman with a burst appendix and dies. Dr. Spaulding had earlier said she should go to Cheyenne for an operation before her condition became so grave. The doctor is kidnapped by a couple to treat a man with a gunshot ... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

1 March 1967 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Halfway into the episode, Dr. Pat crosses the street heading toward her office. You can see the shadow of the camera crew following her across the street. See more »

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User Reviews

Nicely done episode
28 September 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Twelve years prior to the filming of this episode, Warner Brothers made a film called "Strange Lady in Town" starring Greer Garson. It, too, was about a female physician in the old west (and is probably the real basis for Jane Seymour's interpretation of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman). According to the internet movie database description, "Strange Lady" is about 'a brilliant woman who has studied medicine in Europe and has several new techniques to try to update the staid, older doctor.' We sort of see some of that in this episode of The Virginian. It was also done again in an episode of Gunsmoke called 'Dr. Sam McTavish M.D.' in which Milburn Stone's doc has to learn to accept the new ways of a lady medic. That episode first aired on October 5, 1970 (more than three years after this episode of The Virginian) and featured Vera Miles. I am sure there are more examples in other western films and television series.

What's important here is the way the writers of The Virginian show how it affects our lead male character. In this case, James Drury's character, a ranch hand, is the one whose life is most affected by the arrival of a doctor named Pat. In fact, in one scene, he helps her operate! There is a nice romance that develops but is ended somewhat abruptly at the close of the episode. It would've been nice had she returned to Medicine Bow in a later season and they had reconnected.

What also strikes me about this episode is how like Hitchcock's last film "Family Plot," it has two very separate plots that do not really intersect until more than two-thirds of the way into the story. We sort of figure that the crooks will eventually need medical attention and that Pat will cross paths with them. But I like how these people seem rather isolated in their criminal pursuits, then with an interesting twist of fate, they suddenly jeopardize her standing in the community through no fault of her own. There is a great line of dialogue in which the lady crook seems to speak on behalf of Pat and the entire medical profession when she says they are who they are, but they are not murderers.

It's a nicely done episode. The only flaw I found with it is that I would think some of the ranch hands in town would go to her not because they needed treatment, but because she was so attractive and they would find any excuse to interact with her. There could've been a cute comic relief scene with Trampas feigning an injury and being her first 'real' client. Instead, we find her being completely shunned in the beginning which I don't think would exactly happen.

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