Each year on March 30th in the United States, we celebrate National Doctors’ Day; a day to recognize our nation’s physicians for the dedication, support and crucial care they provide to their communities.
In honor of this special day, we’re taking a quick trip down memory lane through the timeline of the medical profession across the decades.
- In prehistoric times, ‘healers’ used plants for medicinal purposes, as well as unpredictable procedure known as trepanation, whereas pain and pressure were to be relieved by way of puncturing the skull.
- Some 30,000 years later, ancient Egyptian healers were being trained in anatomy and diagnosis, and had performed some of the first recorded surgeries: root canals.
- In the 5th century B.C., the Greek Hippocrates wrote the Hippocratic Oath, which required healers to swear to the healing gods that certain ethical standards would be upheld. The modern-day version of this oath is ‘do no harm’.
- By the 9th century A.D., doctors had begun practicing in what we now consider hospitals and possessed a knowledge of using tools of the medical profession, such as scalpels, forceps and catgut.
- The first medical schools emerged in 12th century medieval Europe, and doctors were beginning to have a greater understanding of how to effectively combine textbook knowledge with hands-on field experience for better patient outcomes. Teachings included anatomy, basic surgery and the use of medicinal herbs.
- In the year 1400, the term “physician” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.
- 1766 saw the inception of the first medical organization, The New Jersey Medical Society. The American Medical Association was later established in 1847.
- In 1849, the first female, Elizabeth Blackwell, was awarded a medical degree.
- The 1800’s saw many scientific advancements in the medical profession, such as the use of chemistry, genetics and immunology.
- In the 1900’s, reliable prescription drugs were available and Penicillin became a valuable preventative for sicknesses that might otherwise become deadly. Informed modern surgery methods were replacing archaic and more barbaric procedures such as lobotomies.
- National Doctors Day was first celebrated in the year 1933 by Eudora Brown Almond, who chose to honor physicians on the anniversary of the first time general anesthesia was used in surgery.
- In 1982, the first surgery to implant an artificial heart was performed, though the patient lived only 112 days after the procedure. As knowledge and innovations improved, so did the outcomes of transplant surgeries.
- Today, modern doctors are equipped with centuries of collective knowledge in conjunction with greater innovative technologies than ever before. Through the use of high-resolution imaging, robotics, laser technology and more, physicians can now produce results never before imagined.
What a long way we’ve come in the history of the medical profession!
Without the care and expertise of our nation’s physicians, quality of life in our population would be greatly diminished. On this annual National Doctors’ Day, we take this moment to recognize their invaluable contributions and express our heartfelt gratitude for the tireless dedication of extraordinary physicians everywhere!
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