Take a Moment Tomorrow to Thank a Doctor

In the first two years of medical school a fledgling physician will double his or her 15,000-word vocabulary with mostly Latin-derived words that are difficult to pronounce. Then, eleven or more years later, and after a cost of at least a quarter of a million dollars they can put their name, including the M.D., on the door of their practice. All this effort allows them to work long hours and have their sleep interrupted by emergencies.

It’s no wonder that Eudora Brown Almond wanted to honor doctors. She was the wife of one and declared on March 30, 1933 that there should be a Doctors Day celebrated by mailing greeting cards and putting flowers on the graves of deceased doctors. She chose the red carnation as the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.

Why March 30? It was chosen to mark the date in 1842 that Crawford W. Long, M.D. had a bright idea to use ether as an anesthetic when he performed surgery on a man who had a tumor in his neck.

“I didn’t feel a thing!” the patient purportedly said. And, for years ether became the gold standard of anesthesia. Fun to note is that prior to Dr. Long’s experiment ether was used for recreational purposes. Martini? Ether?

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush officially recognized March 30 as National Doctors Day. “Since then,” the American Board of Physician Specialties website says, “we have used this anniversary as an official opportunity to pause and say thank you to the physicians who help to treat your injuries and illnesses, deliver our babies, and help us be as healthy as we possibly can be.

“At the ABPS, we strongly encourage the American public to take a minute out of their day to let their family physicians and other specialists know that their hard work, selfless dedication, and personal commitment to our American healthcare system is not only recognized but appreciated in the strongest terms.”

Bonner General Health’s CEO, Sheryl Rickard agrees. “We take this opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the contributions our doctors make to the hospital, our patients, and our community. We thank them for the compassionate, professional care they provide each and every day.”

Rickard says that BGH is fortunate to have 74 doctors either actively on staff or as an affiliate or associate member.

“Active Medical Staff consists of physicians that generally live in our community. They admit patients, order tests and perform procedures on our patients. Our 60-member active medical staff includes physicians that practice in the following areas: addiction medicine, anesthesiology, cardiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, hospitalist, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pain management, pediatrics, pediatric dentistry, podiatry, psychiatry and radiology.”

Some physicians may live elsewhere but still have patients here. They’re the hospital’s Affiliate Medical Staff and practice in some of the above specialties and also in allergy and immunology, nephrology (kidney function), otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), pathology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and urology.

“A fairly new medical staff category is Community Associate Staff. The physicians in this category are those who have practices in our community, but because we have a hospitalist program, they no longer perform inpatient care. These physicians continue to be an extremely important part of the medical staff,” Rickard said.

Rickard said that besides managing their busy practices, many physicians volunteer their time and talents to the hospital by serving on committees, holding leadership roles and medical director positions and holding seats on the BGH Board of Directors and BGH Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Many of our physicians volunteer at the Bonner Partners in Care Clinic,” Rickard said. “The care that is provided to the population served by the clinic would not be available without the generosity of our community, including the compassionate care provided by our physicians.”

Whether or not we send greeting cards or carnations, we all can take a minute tomorrow to be grateful for living in this small, rural community and having access to such a wide range of medical expertise. Happy Doctors Day!

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.