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Physicians recognized for service to patients' health, well being

U.S. Air Force Major (Dr.) Whitney Pafford, 88th Surgical Operations Squadron Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Director at Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology, checks a patient for irregularities or signs of cancer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 17. Dr. Pafford has served patients as a military doctor for four years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Scott Johnson)

U.S. Air Force Major (Dr.) Whitney Pafford, 88th Surgical Operations Squadron Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Director at Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology, checks a patient for irregularities or signs of cancer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, March 17. Dr. Pafford has served patients as a military doctor for four years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Scott Johnson)

Pediatrician Major (Dr.) Michelle Kiger, 88th Medical Operations Squadron, discusses some of the day’s issues with Capt.(Dr.) Eric Engstrom, 88th MDOS Pediatric Resident physician, during her rounds at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Medical Center. Kiger and Engstrom, as well as all physicians across America, are being lauded during National Doctors Day observances, March 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Will Huntington)

Pediatrician Major (Dr.) Michelle Kiger, 88th Medical Operations Squadron, discusses some of the day’s issues with Capt.(Dr.) Eric Engstrom, 88th MDOS Pediatric Resident physician, during her rounds at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Medical Center. Kiger and Engstrom, as well as all physicians across America, are being lauded during National Doctors Day observances, March 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Will Huntington)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Physicians on base, as well as doctors across America, will receive a collective pat on the back, March 30, as the nation officially observes National Doctors Day.

Traditionally, the day’s observance activities can range from simply sending a flower, often a red carnation, and a card to a physician and their spouse, to special events, such as a luncheon, organized by staff at a healthcare facility. Some observances include placing a flower on the graves of deceased physicians.

National Doctors Day had its genesis in 1933, in Winder, Georgia, where Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, worked to have a day set aside to honor physicians in America for their service to its citizens, according to the Web site, doctorsday.org.

While the U.S. House of Representatives adopted the day as an observance in 1958 with a resolution commemorating the day, it was in October 1990 that official momentum began to make the day official in the United States by the House and the Senate.

On February 21, 1991, then-President George H. W. Bush issued an official proclamation designating March 30, as National Doctors Day.

In the proclamation Bush spoke of the special position of physicians in the lives of Americans, including those “great pioneers in medical research” who were responsible for advances in medicine.

“In addition to the doctors whose name we easily recognize, there are countless others who carry on the quiet work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States -- indeed, throughout the world,” President Bush wrote.

Bush concluded the proclamation by paying special tribute to doctors in the military and it is through the military that many physicians, including some at Wright-Patt, are able to start their careers and also hone their skills.

Some of the nearly 350 doctors at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, feel that their work as physicians not only brings about expressions of gratitude from their patients and their families, it helps put their service in perspective.

Dr. (Maj.) Whitney Pafford, 88th Surgical Operations Squadron Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Director, talked of one of her patients with a history of cancer who thanked her for saving his life. In the course of examining him for another issue, she had discovered that he had a new lesion.

“I think we as providers don't often realize how we impact people with our day-to-day routine,” Pafford said. “But to them it can be a life changing moment.”

Dr. (Capt.) Michelle Kiger, a pediatrician with the 88th Medical Operations Squadron, said the profession is extremely rewarding. She really enjoys working with her young patients and as a pediatrician, finds great satisfaction in her relationship with their families too.

“It’s always a common goal because they want what’s best for their child,” Kiger said of her interface with her patient’s parents and family members. “It’s easier for me to build that alliance with them and be on the same page with them.”

Kiger added that she is grateful for the recognition that the day brings to doctors but she is also quick to note the contributions of the Center’s other healthcare professionals.

“I think anybody appreciates a ‘thank you’ for what they do, but I don’t think we deserve any bigger of a thank you than anyone else here,” Kiger said.

Pafford summed the profession up in just a few words.

"I think it's an honor to take care of patients," she said.