Being part of the Whoiverse on Twitter, I have noticed a lot of Rory role players tend to make Rory a doctor rather than a nurse. I have seen far weirder and extreme breaches to canon but this one really irks me. The implication of a nurse not being good enough; be it for the player or for the character himself.
The job ‘nurse’ sums up Rory’s character and his relationship with The Doctor rather neatly. A nurse’s role is different than a doctor’s. They are in the care profession, not medical. They are more patient orientated than problem orientated: in The Doctor’s Wife it was Rory comforting the dying Sexy while The Doctor focus on the threat of the episode. They apply aid on behalf the doctors: in A Good Man Goes To War it’s Rory that blows up the cybermen fleet as a ‘message from The Doctor.’ The can be often overlooked: in The Eleventh Hour it is Rory that has put in the prep work of all the photos of Prisoner Zero in human disguises and isn’t thanked. They care for the emotional needs of the patients as well as psychical: in The Rebel Flesh Rory cares for Ganger Jen, listening to her story, caring what’s going on in her mind while The Doctor just ‘outs’ Ganger Miranda in front of Jimmy and Buster.
It’s a different job and for the most of it, the show captures the different outlooks of both professions in the characters of The Doctor and Rory. These role players seem to miss this and latch on to that Rory is ‘just a nurse’ and ‘not a doctor.’ I blame Amy’s Choice for this. The fact of in Rory’s dream world that Rory is a doctor stuck with people. First, this was not a Moffat episode and he can’t micro-manage everything so it’s possible that this slipped past him or didn’t stick out as something major that he had to correct.
Secondly, we don’t know for sure that this is Rory’s dream but how The Doctor perceive what Rory’s dream would be. He is the one that pointed it out. The Dream Lord was psychic pollen feeding on the darkness in The Doctor’s mind who says if it was feeding off the companions it “would starve to death in an instant.” I choice to believe that The Doctor gave Amy and Rory the ‘normal life’ that he was envious of in Father’s Day to the extent to pushing things – the pregnancy, Amy’s nesting instinct, Rory’s PhD and possibly even the ponytail – to give them the adventure that he can’t have, once they have ‘grown up’ and left him.
The Sontaran Nurse is the one that expressed feelings of being just ‘a nurse’ as he died when Rory stared at him with a stony grieving expression. In the audio commentary Arthur Darvill adds the deleted line of ‘So am I’ which was cut. Apparently that line and scene was to show that Rory is no more a nurse but as much as a warrior as the sontaran.
The sontaran was made a nurse as a punishment. He is a member of a race that wars for sport. He doesn’t want to be a nurse. He tells his patients that he looks forward to crushing them in the field of battle when they are all better. He is ‘just a nurse’ because he wants to be a warrior. [See the first comment for Tansy Rayner Roberts' take on the Sontaran.]
If Rory is ‘just a nurse’ it’s because of Amy’s perception on The Doctor. He doesn’t want to a doctor. He wants the woman he loves not to hero worship another man. It’s not just romantic jealously. He was there with Amy the fourteen years that The Doctor wasn’t and seen Amy instance that her Raggedy Doctor was real as she got transferred between four therapists yet he was only the boy who dressed up as her magical mad man when The Doctor was the flesh and blood fantasy he had to compete with for his wife’s attention.
And that does come full circle. In The Wedding of River Song Amy draws what is described on the script as “an impossibly handsome picture of Rory” and goes to save Captain Williams rather than going with The Doctor and River Song.
He doesn’t need role players giving him a job that will take him out of care industry for a title and higher pay check. He worked at least three years to become a nurse. He has Amy’s love and respect. That is Rory’s happy ending.