Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adventures in Nomenclature, Ob/Gyn Edition

The Apgar score.  Assessing babies.  You all have it memorized, right?  0-2 points each for newborn's color, heart rate, reflexes, tone, and respiration?  Yeah?  Ok good.

Virginia Apgar

Let me tell you how awesome (the naming of) this test is.  First of all it is named for arguably one of the coolest women ever, Virginia Apgar (more about her later).  But on top of that, the test is ALSO an acronym!  Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration.  Come on, that is cool.  It's like she was boooorn to invent this test.  So even though you all know I hate eponyms (except that now that there's a whole movement to get rid of them, I suppose I'm starting to become a little nostalgic), this one is pretty bad-ass as far as eponyms go.

tee hee, she has an upside-down baby
 So let me tell you all the things I like about Virginia.  First of all, born and raised in NJ (whatup).  Second of all, she trained under Allen Whipple (this means nothing, but I have another post about him - #makingconnections).  Third of all, she was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  Fourth of all, she basically made anesthesiology into a respectable field.  Fifth of all, she developed the Apgar score and pretty much invented the field of perinatology.  Sixth of all, she was a total public health advocate (a March of Dimes director and a huge promoter of the rubella vaccination and Rh testing for mothers).  Seventh of all, her glasses!!  Eighth of all, she supposedly said (although I'm having some trouble finding a legitimate source for this and I really need to start studying) that, "women are liberated from the time they leave the womb."  Duh now, but not so duh back then.

but seriously, you know you made it when you're on a stamp

non-MLA, non-peer-reviewed sources: National Library of Medicine, PBS They Made America


  1. I also noticed the awesomeness of the Apgar name earlier this year when I was revising for finals.

    Not wishing to be facetious, but why OB/GYN edition? It's to do with babies after delivery, so surely it's Paeds?

    (also, to Brits, OB/GYN is such a hilarious name because the letters don't stand for anything, they're just letters at the beginning of the words! Btw, hi, I currently work in Obs & Gynae.)

  2. And another thing that's awesome, it's an acronym in German too! They had to swap some of the words around to make it work (A is for breathing (Atmung) instead of R for respiration) but it still works.

  3. I guess you're right, it would be peds. I'm on my ob/gyn rotation though and since they assess the apgar score 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth, the ob team (and me) is still in the room while it's going on. And ob/gyn is so much shorter to say than to say the whole word out! We're all about shortening words until life is easier or at least until whatever we're saying is unintelligible. ;)

    That's pretty awesome that it's an acronym in German too!

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