In "Vis à Vis," the EMH materializes inside of the holodeck as Tom Paris is working on a car. The Doctor blows the horn to test Paris' hearing.

He then states, "I realize that your sickbay training is purely voluntary, but you haven't spent any time there in several weeks..."

Later, Chakotay chastises Paris for missing this sickbay training.

Either Tom's sickbay training is truly voluntary, and thus the EMH and Chakotay shouldn't care at all if he never shows up, or it's not really voluntary, which would explain the EMH's frustration with the lack of interest.

Or perhaps "voluntary" means something different on the ship.

  • 5
    If you volunteer or commit to do something it is still irksome if you don't do it
    – HorusKol
    Jan 6 '18 at 5:06
  • 1
    I actually wouldn't be surprised if "voluntary" DID mean something different on this ship. They're in unknown territory, no contact with home, no idea when/if they'll find help or resupply. All of which makes it that much more important to cover their bases on things like medical response capability and not to rely on an emergency hologram that could vanish if the wrong systems were damaged. At the same time, they're in a perfect "cabin fever" environment where hope and respite are hard to find, so asking for "volunteers" for things which aren't really optional could be a way to avoid fights
    – Steve-O
    Jan 6 '18 at 14:45

According to the Tom Paris page at Memory Alpha

He was assigned the additional job of medic for The Doctor when an assessment for medical replacements was brought forth, as Paris had taken two semesters of biochemistry at the Academy.

Further, in the episode in question, the following exchange takes place

EMH: I see. I realise your Sickbay training is purely voluntary, but you haven't spent any time there in several weeks. And when I try to find you, you're always in the holodeck.

PARIS: Correct me if I'm wrong, Doc, but we haven't been treating anything more serious than an ingrown toenail.

Later during the conversation you mentioned with between Paris and Chakotay, Chakotay says

CHAKOTAY: Maybe. I was wondering if there's something on your mind. You're showing up for your duty shifts, you do what's required, but your heart doesn't seem to be in it. You seem preoccupied.

The first part indicates that he has been assigned to sickbay in some capacity but any training he gets from the Doctor beyond his initial academy training is voluntary. The second part indicates that Chakotay is concerned about his officer as he sees what he believes is a troubling pattern of behavior in Paris.

Also, he may have volunteered for something but once he did, it became his responsibility.

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