Celebrating physicians

The history of National Doctors’ Day and what it means to social media

With the increased use of social media, it has been a trend to highlight health systems that have done a great job in celebrating the physicians at their institutions.


National Doctors’ Day (NDD) is celebrated every year on March 30 and is a day to honor doctors all over the world. This day was founded in 1842 by Eudora Brown Almond, who was the wife of family medicine physician Charles B. Almond, MD.

Their mission was to celebrate physicians’ contributions in medicine by delivering red carnations to physicians in their practices and homes, as well as laying flowers on the graves of late physicians as a sign of appreciation of their contribution to their communities. Traditionally, thank-you notes and gifts have also been given to physicians in order to honor their dedication to public service and scientific innovation.

NDD over the years

The celebration of NDD has changed greatly over the last 180 years. For example, when I was in medical school and residency, the hospitals I spent time at often had a lunch celebration in the doctors’ lounge.

There were accompanying gifts that varied from thank-you emails sent by administration, a professional photographer available to take portraits of us wearing our white coats to update our medical staff photos, and embroidered fleece jackets with our health system’s logo on it.

With the increased use of social media, it has been a trend to highlight health systems that have done a great job in celebrating the physicians at their institutions. The day also leaves opportunities for physicians to highlight concerns over not feeling appreciated and valued at their hospitals, especially when many other health care lines of business have hefty budgets for celebrations and festivities for every day the week, rather than just one calendar day.

The power of social media allowed much of this feedback to be collected on physician online communities such as ‘Physicians Working Together,’ which was founded by Kim Jackson, MD, on Facebook. The group’s mission is “to provide a forum for physicians from all disciplines to learn from one another’s experiences, share information and find solutions to universal physician issues.”

National Physicians Week

Discussions with inspired leaders of the medical world about the lack of equity in recognition led to the formation of National Physicians Week, a recognized annual national holiday celebrated from March 25-March 31.

Dr. Jackson and her board have yearly celebratory themes to help guide hospitals and social media users on how best to honor physicians around the world. The yearly celebrations not only include honoring practicing physicians, but also promoting scholarships for medical students and celebrating our soon-to-be physicians. 

This year’s theme focuses on our teamwork during the pandemic that has plagued us over the last two years. The call to action is to share stories with hashtag #Best2Gether to highlight the innovative ways physicians have worked together to keep their patients safe and healthy.

These stories will be shared on a website of the same name, https://www.best2gether.org/. It’s not too late to participate as you can still tape a 60-second video (taped in a well-lit area with your phone or camera in a horizontal position) to be highlighted on that page. Hospital systems can widely distribute this link to their staff so we can be further connected regardless of location of practice or the different health systems and communities we serve.

I am so impressed with the level of support and celebration National Doctors’ Day has gained. I am sure that Dr. and Mrs. Almond would be so excited to see this advancement, and I hope hospitals and medical practices can unite with the online world in this method in honoring physicians, especially during a time when the rate of burnout is at record highs, and we are facing a projected physician shortage in the next five years.

Ideas for observing National Physicians Week

Please consider doing the following during National Physicians Week:

  • Participate in the #Best2Gether campaign outlined above.
  • Share pictures of your physician colleagues and anecdotes about what their work means to you.
  • Write a heartfelt blog or social media post about why your physician colleagues are so important to you, or share a story about excellent care you or your family has received as a patient.

We need to give doctors the respect and appreciation they deserve. We should do this both on a daily basis, and during doctor appreciation week. Doctors are heroes of our society, and we should be thankful for their service to humanity.

In a world that is now connected by the web with an easy click of a few buttons from your phone or computer, there should be no reason why physicians can’t be congratulated and celebrated all week long in unique ways.

If you are a physician, comment below some of the ways you would love to be celebrated and how National Physicians Week went for you this year! If you are a hospital or clinic administrator, please take the time to read the comments and follow the social media campaign online to gather ideas for this year and to plan for National Physicians Week in 2023. Thanks for all that you do!

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

On National Women Physicians Day, female DOs reflect on women in medicine

The Lorna Breen Act: Why mental health matters

One comment

  1. Darren Farnesi, MD

    Hmmmm – well it’s a great question. At this point for me the bar is set pretty low….ANY kind of acknowledgement would be appreciated. When I think of all the sacrifices I’ve made to go into this profession that so many have never had to make – many who have much more disposable income and free time than I have – I wonder why I did it all sometimes…of course, the reward of helping people feel and look better is what makes it all worth it. This is the first I’ve heard of National Doctor’s Day this year. I have heard about it in the past, but I don’t remember when. I don’t think anyone on my staff or any of my patients even knew it was a thing this year. It certainly wasn’t on my calendar.

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