Canadian Medical Association

The CMA is officially declaring May 1 as National Physicians’ Day, in recognition of the work of physicians and physicians-in-training across Canada. 

While several provinces — Ontario and Nova Scotia — already hold their own celebrations on May 1, the goal of a national day is to recognize the Canadian medical profession and its contributions to the country’s history and national identity. Many other countries already officially observe their own doctors’ day, such as Brazil, Cuba, India and the United States.

May 1 was chosen as the proposed date to pay tribute to one of the most influential individuals in Canadian medical history. Dr. Emily Stowe — born May 1, 1831 — was the first female to practise medicine in Canada, and a founder of the country’s women’s movement.

She was inspired to pursue a career in medicine after her husband, John, contracted tuberculosis. At the time, no Canadian college or university would accept a woman, so she pursued her medical studies in the United States, earning a degree from the New York Medical College for Women. Following her studies, Dr. Stowe went on to open a medical practice in Toronto.

Support for the creation of a national day is also gaining support in Parliament. Last month, Senator Art Eggleton introduced the Bill, An Act respecting National Physicians’ Day, which would create an official commemorative day at the federal level. 

As May 1 approaches, stay tuned for more information on how the CMA will be marking this special day and celebrating the many contributions of our country’s medical profession.

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