The medical profession is one of the oldest on the planet. Physicians have advanced their profession by learning how to treat and conquer diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis and cholera, making the world safer for its inhabitants. They continue to learn how to help their patients by inventing new treatments and providing care that improve quality of life every day.
In honor of their dedication, a day has been set aside every year to celebrate them. National Doctors’ Day is March 30.
History of the holiday
The origin of National Doctors’ Day can be traced back to 1933 in Winder, GA, when Eudora Brown Almond, wife of a prominent physician, wanted to honor the hard work of doctors like her husband.
On March 30 of that year, she mailed greeting cards to every doctor she knew and placed flowers on the graves of deceased physicians. The flowers that she chose to place on their graves, red carnations, are still used today for National Doctors’ Day celebrations. Mrs. Almond picked the date of March 30 in tribute to another Georgia physician, Dr. Crawford W. Long, who employed ether as an anesthetic for the first time during surgery on that date in 1842.
Doctors’ Day remained an unofficial holiday for the next 58 years. In 1990, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to establish a national Doctors’ Day. Following approval by both chambers, on October 30, 1990, President George Bush signed a resolution into law, designating March 30 as “National Doctors’ Day.”
How the world celebrates doctors
The United States is not the only country to honor the dedication of physicians to caring for the sick, advancing medical treatments and educating the public about healthcare. Doctors are celebrated all over the world throughout the year.
- Brazil celebrates National Doctors’ Day on October 18, the birthday of Saint Luke the Evangelist, thought to be both a physician and a disciple of Paul. He is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.
- Several Spanish-speaking countries, such as Cuba, Argentina and Spain celebrate Doctors’ Day on December 3, the birthday of Carlos Juan Finlay. Dr. Finlay is credited with identifying the mosquito as the carrier of yellow fever, a discovery that eventually led to the eradication of the deadly disease.
- Doctors’ Day is celebrated on May 1 in Ontario, in appreciation of Dr. Emily Stowe, the first female physician in Canada, who celebrated her birthday on that date.
- India pays tribute to doctors on July 1 each year in honor of Dr. B.C. Roy, who was born on that day in 1882 and, coincidentally, died on that same date in 1962. Dr. Roy was not only well known as a physician, but was also an educator, social reformer and freedom fighter. He was a leader of the Indian National Congress and chief minister of West Bengal.
- Australia celebrates Doctors for Doctors Day on September 28 every year. On this day, doctors honor their colleagues throughout the country by making donations to Médecins San Frontiéres, an international medical humanitarian organization that gives emergency medical aid to people all over the world.
- Vietnam recognizes physicians devoted to improving public health care on Vietnamese Doctors’ Day, February 27.
- Many other countries celebrate International Doctors’ Day on the first Monday of October every year, which is also the Day of Solidarity of Doctors of the World. This holiday was created by the World Health Organization.
You can show support for your physicians on National Doctors’ Day by saying a simple word of thanks for all that they do. And remember, if you see red carnations on that day, it means a doctor is being honored!