The cartoon doctor

Today’s Bizarro/Wayno collaboration drops us into the world of cartoon doctors:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The doctor already has the lab coat, the stethoscope, and the clipboard. Missing: the stereotypical head mirror.

From Wikipedia:

A head mirror is a simple diagnostic device, stereotypically worn by physicians, but less so in recent decades as they have become somewhat obsolete.

A head mirror is mostly used for examination of the ear, nose & throat. It comprises a circular concave mirror, with a small hole in the middle, and is attached to a head band. The mirror is worn over the physician’s eye of choice, with the concave mirror surface facing outwards and the hole directly over the physician’s eye, providing illumination like a ring light.

In use, the patient sits and faces the physician. A bright lamp is positioned adjacent to the patient’s head, pointing toward the physician’s face and hence towards the head mirror. The light from the lamp reflects off the mirror, along the line of sight of the user, with the light being somewhat concentrated by the curvature of the mirror. When used properly, the head mirror thus provides excellent shadow-free illumination.

Because they were once in common use, notably by general practitioners and otorhinolaryngologists, head mirrors are often a stereotypical part of a physician’s uniform by costumers and prop men e.g. in comic routines. The main drawback to head mirrors was that they require some skill to use well. They are rarely seen outside of the ENT setting, having been largely replaced by pen lights among general practitioners. They are still routinely used by otolaryngologists, particularly for examination and procedures involving the oral cavity.

The full kit in a doctor costume you can buy:

(#2) Head mirror, stethoscope, lab coat, hypodermic syringe, and more

Another cartoon head mirror, in an ITWorld cartoon by Phil Johnson from 8/22/14, “Turn, cough and verify your identity [CARTOON]: In the wake of recent security breaches of medical databases, doctors can’t be too careful”:


This cartoon introduces yet another trope: turn your head and cough. From the tv tropes site on it:

A Stock Phrase and Stock Joke involving the medical community. This usually involves a doctor or physician examining a male patient’s testicular region and instructing the patient to cough, turning his head so as to avoid the patient coughing on the doctor. The intended purpose of this part of a medical exam is to check if the patient has a hernia.

More humorously, however, doctors in fiction who get to this part of a physical exam may be revealed to not actually be doing this for any medical reason, thus revealing the doc as a perverted sexual deviant. Inversely, the person may be a perverted sexual deviant posing as a doctor just to feel someone’s balls.

One Response to “The cartoon doctor”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    Yes, I learned to use a head mirror when I was a medical student in about 1962, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one used again. You can get a pretty good look at the vocal cords with a head mirror and an angled mirror on a handle.

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