Par Louis Joseph Auguste, MD
NATIONAL DOCTOR’S DAY
March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. For most physicians, this will come as a surprise, since they did not even know that such a day or any day had been devoted to honor our profession. The first Doctors Day observance was March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia. Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians. This first observance included the mailing greeting cards and placing flowers on graves of deceased doctors. You may ask why March 30 was chosen. Well, it is in commemoration of the date that Crawford W. Long, M.D., of Jefferson, GA, administered the first ether anesthetic for surgery on March 30, 1842. It took an act of congress signed into law on February 21, 1991 by the elder President George Bush to nationally recognize the achievement of physicians throughout the history of mankind. In the preamble of this law, Mr. Bush quoted Dr. Elmer Hess, past president of the American Medical Association: "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."
Although that day was selected for the public at large to honor doctors, it is also for us the opportunity to reflect on our role in the delivery of treatment and relief for all curable or incurable illnesses. From the days of Aesculapius and Galen to the days of monoclonal antibodies, physicians have devoted themselves and even at times sacrificed their lives to decipher the inner working of the human body and ways to restore it to health when viruses, bacteria, genetic mutations have derailed the ultrasensitive and precise functioning of the delicate and unique machine that is the human body. March 30 will be a day to reflect on our essential and indispensable role in the health care system as well as a day to reflect on the burden we carry on our shoulders to everyday live up to our Hippocratic Oath.
Hippocratic Oath: Modern Version
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
While celebrating Passover and Easter, do not forget to wish each other: Happy Doctor’s Day!
Happy Doctor’s Day to all our members!
Louis J Auguste, MD
President/LIJ Staff Society