National Doctors' Day is held every year on March 30th in the United States. It is a day to celebrate the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its' citizens.
Here are six facts regarding its history and the reason for the celebration:
1. National Doctors Day marks the date that Crawford W. Long, M.D., of Jefferson, Ga., administered the first ether anesthetic for surgery on March 30, 1842.
On that day, Dr. Long administered ether anesthesia to a male patient and then operated to remove a tumor from the man's neck. Later, the patient would swear that he felt nothing during the surgery and was not aware the surgery was over until he awoke.
2. The first Doctor's Day observance took place March 30, 1933, in Winder, Ga. Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians.
According to a paper entitled "How March 30th Came to be Doctors' Day," (PDF) from the time of her early childhood, Brown had admired the gentleness of her family physician. In 1920, she married Dr. Almond and, believing that healing the sick was man's greatest profession, became convinced that medical practitioners deserved a day of recognition.
She selected March 30 to honor the man whom she considered Georgia's most famous son, Dr. Long, based on his use of anesthetics. After the county medical auxiliary had passed her resolution, the day was marked by mailing commemorative cards to the county's physicians and their wives, and by laying flowers on the graves of Dr. Long and other doctors.
3. On March 30, 1958, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating Doctors' Day.
4. In 1990, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to establish a national Doctor's Day. Following overwhelming approval by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, on October 30, 1990, President George Bush signed S.J. RES. #366 (which became Public Law 101-473) designating March 30th as "National Doctor's Day."
5. On February 21, 1991, President Bush signed a proclamation declaring March 30, 1991, as National Doctors' Day.
The proclamation began with a reference to Dr. Elmer Hess, a former president of the AMA, who wrote: "There is no greater reward in our profession than the knowledge that God has entrusted us with the physical care of His people. The Almighty has reserved for Himself the power to create life, but He has assigned to a few of us the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained."
6. Historically, a card or red carnation has been sent to physicians and their spouses, along with a flower placed on the graves of deceased physicians. (The red carnation is commonly used as the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.)
Doctors dedicate their lives to helping others. They endure years of education followed by more years of residency to gain board certification and then work even longer hours treating patients.
It takes a special kind of dedication to embark on a medical career, and we are all indebted to those who do. But, it’s easy to forget just how important good doctors are — that is, until we become ill or sustain an injury.
National Doctors’ Day shines a spotlight on these hard working doctors and encourages us to show appreciation for the long hours they work, their compassion, and the effort they put into practicing medicine.
“While the work we do is appreciated on a daily basis with each life we impact, it is nice to have a day set aside for recognition from our patients, co-workers and peers,” adds Dr. David Schillinger, SCP Chief Medical Officer. “At SCP we foster a culture of treating our providers with respects and honoring the service provided on a daily basis --- but we too recognize the significance of March 30th. So, from the leadership team at SCP, we thank you for your service, compassion and commitment to your patients and to SCP”