In addition to National Heart Health Month and Cancer Prevention Month, February is Black History Month, or as it has come to be known, National African American History Month. It has been recognized every February since 1976 (first by then-President Gerald Ford). It is an annual celebration of all of the achievements made by African Americans, as well as a time to recognize and honor the role of African Americans in our country’s history. Important figures in African American culture include, but aren’t limited to: Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, and Barack Obama. To celebrate the month this year, Medical Scrubs Mall has come up with a short list of great African American pioneers, and how their efforts have has an effect on your everyday lives in the medical field. Without some of these accomplishments, we may not have many of the medical tools or procedures we have and use today!
1. Dr. Patricia Bath –an Ophthalmologist who was the first African-American female to receive a patent for a medical invention for use in cataract surgery
2. Otis Boykin-an engineer and inventor who created an artificial heart pacemaker control unit
3. Phil Brooks-an inventor who received the first U.S. Patent for a disposable syringe
4. Dr. Charles Drew-physician, researcher, and surgeon who revolutionized the understanding of blood plasma thus leading to the invention of blood banks
5. Dr. Dale Hale Williams-founded the first American interracial hospital and the first nursing school for African Americans—later went on to perform the first open heart surgery and was the sole African American member of the American College of Surgeons
There are countless other African American medical pioneers that have not been mentioned in this article. If you’d like to honor anyone in particular, please leave a comment below!