2 min read

Medical Specialties as Programming Languages

Apologies in advance for the copious amounts of stereotyping of both programmers and physicians in various specialties.

Dermatology: Ruby

Ruby is syntactically beautiful. But like dermatology, Ruby is only skin deep, because let's face it - no one uses Ruby for anything other than Rails.

Emergency Medicine: JavaScript

Like JavaScript, emergency medicine docs are very event-driven - only instead of responding to "onclick", they're more likely to respond to "onStretcher".

Family Medicine: Shell scripting

Shell scripting, like family medicine, is useful for dealing with relative simple problems, but as soon as the going gets rough you're going to want to upgrade to a real programming language. You can't really make a living writing shell scripts only, either.

General Surgery: C

The general surgeons are the nuts-and-bolts guys that really fix things. Pointers and manual memory management in C are a lot like scalpels: useful in the right hands, but extremely dangerous otherwise.

Internal Medicine: Java

Java is the definition of a multi-purpose workhorse programming language, and IM is arguably the backbone of medicine. Just as Java developers run away screaming whenever there's pointers involved, IM docs are nowhere to be found when it's time to get dirty and do surgery.

Neurosurgery: Assembly

You really do have to be a brain surgeon to program in assembly. And like brain surgery, writing assembly takes forever and is easily fucked up.

Nuclear Medicine/Radiation Oncology: Haskell

With the algebra and physics these guys have to know, it's no wonder these number-crunching docs prefer a mathy programming language. Plus, trying to write Haskell gives me cancer.


Dealing with all the idiosyncrasies and head-scratching behaviors of the horribly-designed language known as PHP is at least as painful as giving birth.

Orthopedic Surgery: Visual Basic

The drag-and-drop simplicity of building a GUI in Visual Basic (perhaps to track the killer's IP address) is so easy, even an orthopod can do it!

Pathology: COBOL

This language is dead, just like the unfortunate folks on that cold steel slab. Nowadays, COBOL is mostly used for running legacy applications on long-forgotten mainframes - mainframes that are stuck in the basement, just like pathologists.

Baby's very first turtle programming language. Enough said.

Plastic Surgery: Perl

Like many of the patients of plastic surgeons, Perl code is horribly disfigured, with a syntax only Larry Wall could love. No wonder so many call it a "write-only" programming language.

Psychiatry: Brainfuck

Wikipedia describes Brainfuck as "a reference to the slang term 'brain fuck', which refers to things so complicated or unusual that they exceed the limits of one's understanding." In other words, just about every mental disorder. And only a truly crazy individual would use a programming language with only eight commands!