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As physicians nationwide are acknowledged for their talent, sacrifice and courage on National Doctors’ Day, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital honors its more than 230 staff and consulting physicians who strive to fulfill the hospital’s mission each day.
The hospital’s first physician and medical director, Donald Pinkel, M.D., laid the foundation for St. Jude’s reputation as a world-class treatment and research institution. Today, the St. Jude staff and consulting physicians continue his legacy, earning top honors and national recognition for their innovative approaches to treating children with devastating diseases.
“Families have entrusted their children’s care to our physicians since the birth of this institution, and we never lose sight of this tremendous responsibility,” said Joseph Laver, M.D., clinical director and executive vice president at St. Jude. “When we recruit physicians to come to work for St. Jude, we look for excellence in their respective areas. This is essential in an environment such as St. Jude because of the rare diseases that we treat and the highly specialized competencies required to treat them.”
The close working relationship between St. Jude scientists and physicians leads to improved therapies at the bedside. This bench-to-bedside process instills courage and confidence in St. Jude patients and families who consider their physicians as emissaries of hope.
“I definitely want to go into pediatric oncology, and I only hope to be as amazing as Dr. John Sandlund,” said St. Jude patient Ciera Blackburn. “I believe that everything happens for a reason. I personally believe that my reason for being diagnosed with cancer is to meet Dr. Sandlund and realize that this is what I need to do with my life.”
In a lighthearted tradition each year, St. Jude patients and staff celebrate the hospital’s physicians with an ice cream social.
“It’s a way we can show our appreciation for all the hard work our physicians do,” said Jane Raymond, director of the Managed Care department that coordinates the festivities. “It’s also an informal and non-medical way of interacting with the physicians and the patients. Working in a hospital is not an easy job, and the work that we do is so important at St. Jude.”
The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Ga., on the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery. The United States House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating Doctors' Day on March 30, 1958. In 1990, legislation was introduced into the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate to establish a National Doctors, Day. The first National Doctors' Day was celebrated in 1991. The red carnation has become the symbol of Doctors, Day because it denotes the qualities of love, charity, sacrifice, bravery and courage.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Ranked the No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital by Parents magazine, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children, and has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world. St. Jude has developed research protocols that helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancer from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened to almost 80 percent today. St. Jude is the national coordinating center for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. In addition to pediatric cancer research, St. Jude is also a leader in sickle cell disease research and is a globally prominent research center for influenza.
Founded in 1962 by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world, publishing more research articles than any other pediatric cancer research center in the United States. St. Jude treats more than 5,400 patients each year and is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. St. Jude is financially supported by thousands of individual donors, organizations and corporations without which the hospital’s work would not be possible. In 2010, St. Jude was ranked the most trusted charity in the nation in a public survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a highly respected international polling and research firm.