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This National Physicians Week, from March 25–31, we can show doctors we appreciate them as much as they deserve with creative gifts, simple notes, and appreciation posts online. Doctors deal with years of school, grueling shifts, and emotionally difficult decisions, and still manage to care for us with focus and kindness. Physicians drastically improve the duration and quality of life for everyone, and throughout history have done their best to use cutting-edge science to care for others. Physician appreciation is also symbolized by a red carnation, so be sure to bring one to your favorite doc this week!
History of National Physicians Week
The medical profession is one of the oldest, dating back to 25,000 B.C. Healers completing their jobs are depicted on cave walls in France. It wasn’t until almost 20,000 years later that true surgery was born in Egypt, where the first public health system was established. In fact, Egyptians even performed root canals, much like we still do today.
In Greece, medical ethics were born. Hippocrates penned the famous and still-used Hippocratic oath around 500 B.C., which states that doctors must do no harm. By the 1100s, medical schools and hospitals began to be established across Europe. Some of the earliest ones were founded in Paris, Salerno, and Oxford. The works of Hippocrates and other Greek physicians were taught. Though medical schools had already existed for some time, the word ‘physician’ was not added to the dictionary until 1400.
There was a great expansion of the profession in the late 1700s and 1800s, starting in 1766 with the chartering of the first medical organization. In 1847, the American Medical Association was established, and 1849 saw the first woman medical student, Elizabeth Blackwell, graduate from Geneva Medical College in New York. Notable advancements of physicians in the 1900s included the 1937 establishment of the first blood bank, the first human to human heart transplant in 1967, and the first artificial heart implanted in a patient in 1982.
The movement that created National Physicians Week began in 2016 when the advocacy group Physicians Working Together (PWT) sought to celebrate and acknowledge physicians everywhere. The group started on social media with the goal to relieve stress and foster connections for doctors. The movement has come a long way — founder Dr. Kim Jackson says it has helped physicians find better connections with each other and with their patients.
National Physicians Week timeline
Some of the earliest recorded medicine is from Egypt around 5,000 years ago — Egyptians created the first public health system and performed some of the earliest surgeries like the root canal!
The Hippocratic oath, written by Hippocrates carries the commitment to do no harm — doctors still take this oath today.
The word ‘physician’ first appears in the third edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
Elizabeth Blackwell graduates from Geneva Medical College in New York, becoming the first female doctor.
Doctors in New York complete a transatlantic laparoscopy on a patient in France.
National Physicians Week FAQs
Where is National Physicians Week celebrated?
The United States.
Are there other holidays between March 25–31?
Yes! March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day, March 26 is National Spinach Day, March 27 is National Joe Day, March 28 is Respect Your Cat Day, March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, March 30 is Doctors Day, and March 31 is National Crayon Day.
Are there other National holidays about healthcare professionals?
Yes! Doctors Day is on March 30, National Dentist’s Day is on March 6, and International Nurse’s Day is on May 12.
National Physicians Week Activities
Bring a doc some goodies
Whether it’s a cup of coffee, homemade cookies, or a full-blown meal, goodies are always welcome for overworked and tired doctors! With such a demanding profession and excessive overtime work, doctors can sometimes be stretched thin. A plate of cookies shows you care and keeps them on their feet for the rest of their shift!
Send a thank you
Especially if you or a loved one is a patient, it’s a great week to send a card to your caring doctors. The small gesture will remind them of your appreciation, and you’ll continue to receive great care.
Post your thanks with #NationalPhysiciansWeek
A little public praise never hurt anyone! Since we all owe so much to doctors and what they do, it’s a great idea to post your appreciation on your feed. Besides giving physicians the thanks they deserve, you might inspire someone else on your timeline to thank a doc!
5 Important Facts About Physicians
There are a lot of doctors!
There are around 700,000 physicians in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Med school is more female
Up 30% from 30 years ago, it’s now estimated that over 50% of medical school graduates are women.
Physicians never stop working hard
Even after the grueling work of med school, doctors don’t stop. Over 50% of physicians report working overtime, up to 60 hours per week.
Docs make bank
The average salary for doctors hovers a bit above $220,000 per year! However, they often have medical school debt to pay off before they can start enjoying the riches.
Gamers make great surgeons
According to one study, surgeons who played video games made 37% fewer errors in surgery than their counterparts who did not!
Why We Love National Physicians Week
Physicians save lives
At some point in our lives, almost all of us will rely on a physician for guidance and care. These knowledgeable professionals help us live through illnesses and improve our quality of life whenever we see them.
Physicians are inspiring
For many, a physician is a dream job. Between heroically saving lives, conducting experiments that could alter the course of medical care, and earning a great salary, physicians are inspiring to many people.
Physicians are hardworking
Besides being incredibly educated and talented, physicians put in the effort! Not only do they go through grueling years of college, medical school, and residency, they also take on long shifts and emotionally challenging tasks. Through all this, they still manage to care for patients with empathy and kindness.
National Physicians Week dates