Celebrating National Doctor’s Day

The following blog post was written by Collections Assistant Erin Kraus.

National Doctor’s Day is celebrated annually in the United States on March 30th. The holiday originated in the 1930s when a physician’s wife in Georgia organized a lunch for her husband and his fellow doctors to show appreciation for their hard work. March 30th is significant because it marks the day in 1842 that anesthesia was administered to a patient for the first time.

National Doctor’s Day is celebrated by giving cards to doctors and their families and honoring deceased doctors by placing flowers on their graves.  Hallmark Cards designed a special line of cards for National Doctor’s Day in 2003, after their National Nurse’s Day (May 6) cards proved very popular. In addition to card giving, some hospitals treat their doctors with gifts, lunches, and even spa treatments.

National Doctor’s Day was made official in the United States in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. “National Doctors’ Day provides an opportunity to recognize physicians nationwide for their tireless commitment to providing excellent patient care,” according to American Medical Association President Peter W. Carmel, M.D.  Although this holiday originated and flourished in the United States, the desire to show appreciation to doctors is evident worldwide. On March 30, 2008, the Upper Ottawa Valley Medical Recruitment Committee was the first group in Canada to celebrate National Doctor’s Day. This holiday is also celebrated in India, Turkey, Cuba, and many other countries, but on a day significant to each country.

Even though most Canadians do not celebrate National Doctor’s Day, outstanding Canadian doctors are still recognized for their great work. The Museum of Health Care’s collection includes a few awards for such doctors. One example, shown here, is the Frederick Newton Gisborne Starr medal awarded to Dr. William Boyd in 1975 by the Canadian Medical Association.

The FNG Starr Award given to Dr. William Boyd (1975), Collection of the Museum of Health Care #1988.14.1
The FNG Starr Award given to Dr. William Boyd (1975), Collection of the Museum of Health Care #1988.14.1

Recipients of this medal have achieved distinction “by making an outstanding contribution to science, the fine arts or literature (nonmedical), or by achievement in serving humanity under conditions calling for courage or the endurance of hardship in the promotion of health or the saving of life, in advancing the humanitarian or cultural life of his or her community or in improving medical service in Canada.” (see http://www.cma.ca/fng-starr-award)  The achievements of Canadian medical professionals are also recognized at the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London, Ontario (see http://www.cdnmedhall.org/).

National Doctor’s Day is celebrated in many countries in various ways, but they all show appreciation for doctors and their hard work.  Thank your doctor for helping you manage your health today!






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