--Dr. Virginia Apgar, ca. 1950s, explaining why she kept basic resuscitation equipment with her at all times.
It has been said that every baby born in a modern hospital anywhere in the world is looked at first through the eyes of Dr. Virginia Apgar. Her simple, rapid method for assessing newborn viability, the "Apgar score," has longbeen standard practice. Developed in the early 1950s and quickly adopted by obstetric teams, the method reduced infant mortality and laid the foundations of neonatology. While best known for this achievement, Apgar was also a leader in the emerging field of anesthesiology during the 1940s and in the new field of teratology (the study of birth defects) after 1960. [The Virginia Apgar Papers]
Virginia Apgar at age 20, below
Virginia Apgar was brilliant surgeon, yet discouraged by her mentor from practicing in that field because of his belief that women did not fare well [source]; so, Dr. Apgar joined the first residency program in anesthesiology, and became an expert in that field; eventually combining her expertises in both surgery and residency to innovate radically and successfully in the field of neonatology. Below, first row, fourth from left, Virginia Apgar pictured with her classmates in the first residency program in anesthesiology in the United State.
Dr. Apgar was the first woman at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons to be named a full professor [source]. After ten years in that post, she completed a master's degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University. Apgar was approached by the National Foundation-March of Dimes in the spring of 1959, and offered the position of chief of its new Division of Congenital Malformations. She accepted and eventually served also Director of Basic Medical Research (1967-1968) and Vice-President for Medical Affairs (1971-1974) [source].
Virginia Apgar teaching at Columbia obstetric anesthesiology at Columbia.
Text cross posted at 51 Percent as an installment in an occasional series highlighting exceptional women.