Apr 2002

How Many of Us Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Audiey Kao, MD, PhD
Virtual Mentor. 2002;4(4):107-109. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2002.4.4.dykn1-0204.


How many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb? 
A: Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.1

Q: How many pre-med students does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
A: 100. 1 to change the light bulb, the other 99 to stand around wondering why they weren't chosen. 
A: 5. One to change the bulb and 4 to pull the ladder out from under him.

Q: How many surgeons does it take to change a light bulb? 
A: None. Surgeons wait for a suitable donor and do a filament transplant.

Q: How many orthopedic surgeons does it take to change a light bulb? 
A: None. They take out the socket instead. Since the light bulb doesn't work, you won't be using the socket anyway, and it will only cause you trouble down the line.

Q: How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb? 
A: Only 1, but it'll take 9 visits.

Q: How many physiotherapists does it take to change a light bulb? 
A: None. They give the dead bulb some strengthening exercises to do and hope it will be working a bit better the next time they see it.

Q: How many plastic surgeons does it take to change a light bulb? 
A: A host. One to do the surgery and the rest to present you with options. "Now that you've decided on change, do you really want to keep that pear shape? We can take a few of those watts off, and lengthen that filament, and . . . .

A sneeze of allergists 
A snooze of anesthesiologists
A murmur of cardiologists 
A stain of histologists 
A rash of dermatologists
An outbreak of epidemiologists 
A vessel of heart surgeons 
A clot of hematologists 
A growth of oncologists
A gaze of ophthalmologists
A cast of orthopods
A squall of pediatricians
A dose of pharmacologists
A body of pathologists 
A break of radiologists
A stream of urologists 
A stone of nephrologists
A Code of Ethical Behavior for Patients3
  1. Do not expect your doctor to share your discomfort. 
    Involvement with the patient's suffering might cause loss of valuable scientific objectivity.
  2. Be cheerful at all times. 
    Your doctor leads a busy and trying life and requires as much gentleness and reassurance as possible.
  3. Try to suffer from the disease for which you are being treated. 
    Remember that your doctor has a professional reputation to uphold.
  4. Do not complain if the treatment fails to bring relief. 
    You must believe that your doctor has achieved a deep insight into the true nature of your illness, which transcends any mere permanent disability you may have experienced.
  5. Never ask your doctor to explain what he or she is doing or why.
    It is presumptuous to assume that such profound matters could be explained in terms that you would understand.
  6. Submit to novel experimental treatment readily. 
    Though the surgery may not benefit you directly, the resulting research paper will surely be of widespread interest.
  7. Pay your medical bills promptly and willingly. 
    You should consider it a privilege to contribute, however modestly, to the well-being of physicians and other humanitarians.
  8. Do not suffer from ailments that you cannot afford. 
    It is sheer arrogance to contract illnesses that are beyond your means.
  9. Never reveal any of the physician's shortcomings that have come to light in the course of your treatment. 
    The patient-doctor relationship is a privileged one, and you have a sacred duty to protect your physician from exposure.
  10. Never die while in your doctor's presence or while under his or her direct care. 
    This will only cause the physician needless inconvenience and embarrassment.

Four Doctors Duck Hunting4

Four doctors went duck hunting one day. Included in the group were a general practice (GP) physician, a psychiatrist, a surgeon, and a pathologist. After a time, a bird came winging overhead. The first to react was the GP who raised his shotgun, but then hesitated. "I'm not quite sure it's a duck," he said, "I think that I will have to get a second opinion." And of course by that time, the bird was long gone.

Next to spy a bird flying was the sharp-eyed psychiatrist. Shotgun shouldered, he was more certain of his intended prey's identity. "Now, I know it's a duck, but does it know it's a duck?" The fortunate bird disappeared while the fellow wrestled with this dilemma.

Finally, a third fowl sped past and this time the surgeon's weapon pointed skywards. BOOM. The surgeon lowered his smoking gun and turned nonchalantly to the pathologist beside him and said. "Go see if that was a duck, will you?"

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  1. This and the other light bulb jokes are from Definitive collection of lightbulb jokes so far known. On: Blue Light Productions Accessed March 27, 2002.

  2. Collective terminologies for medical specialists are from Favorite Doctor Jokes. Accessed March 27, 2002. (A few additions supplied by Virtual Mentor editors.)

  3. The Code of Ethical Behavior for Patients is available at Accessed on March 27, 2002.

  4. The Duck Hunting joke from Favorite Doctor Jokes. Accessed March 27, 2002.


Virtual Mentor. 2002;4(4):107-109.



The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.