6 Doctors Who Changed Healthcare

There are countless doctors who have boldly gone where no one had before and changed the history of medicine. Innovation in healthcare allows for more lives to be saved, an improved patient experience, and more. In honor of National Doctors’ Day, Pieces is saluting a few pioneers who have changed the course of healthcare. 

William Osler

William Osler is often referred to as the father of modern medicine. He created the first residency program for specialty training of physicians. Osler revolutionized medical education by being the first to bring medical students outside of the classroom and inside hospital walls for bedside clinical training. He was one of the founding members of Johns Hopkins and wrote the medical textbook “The Principles and Practices of Medicine''. Osler’s contributions to medical education transformed the way that future doctors learn. As we think about the role of AI in medicine, we should consider the first principles established by William Osler about the doctor patient relationship and the powers of observation in clinical diagnosis. 

Michael DeBakey

Michael DeBakey was a cardiovascular surgeon who pioneered dozens of operative procedures and performed some of the first heart transplants. DeBakey held many roles at the Baylor University College of Medicine in Houston, TX, including President, CEO, Chancellor, and Chair of the Department of Surgery. Most notably, he invented the “roller pump”, which is a key component of heart-lung machines. He also created artificial hearts and ventricular assist pumps, all key parts in surgical treatments for cardiovascular disease. DeBakey’s innovations save countless lives each year and revolutionized surgery. At Pieces, we are inspired by Dr. DeBakey’s incredible spirit of innovation and invention. 

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in the US to obtain a medical degree in 1849. She brought social awareness and promoted education for women in medicine. Blackwell also founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which extended care to underserved individuals and helped pave the way for the future of women in medicine. Dr. Blackwell’s commitment to underserved communities is inspiring for all those who work on addressing social determinants of health and social justice and equity in medicine.  

Mayo Brothers

What started as a small family practice transformed into one of the most famous hospitals in the world. William and Charles Mayo were outstanding surgeons who took a patient’s needs come first mentality when it came to medicine. The Mayo Clinic marked the beginning of not for profit clinics. The hospital was created with the mission to help people and patients were charged based on their ability to pay. The Mayo Clinic continued to grow and transform throughout the years, later becoming the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. The legacy of the Mayo Brothers still lives on today as the Mayo Clinic continues to treat patients from all walks of life. The Mayo system of detailed notes and records introduced the importance of systematic observational analysis in medicine, now made more possible through the digitization of medical concepts. 

Virginia Apgar 

Virgina Apgar is best known for her invention of the Apgar Score, the first standardized method for evaluating newborn babies. The Apgar score tests the baby’s heart rate, muscles, and other signs to see if extra medical care is needed. This development has helped reduce infant mortality and is still used today. The Apgar score  is one of the earliest and most enduring “predictive models” in medicine. 

Ron Anderson

Ron Anderson was a champion for the medically underserved and a national spokesperson for public health issues. Anderson fought to tackle the issue of “patient-dumping” resulting in the Texas Legislature passing a bill prohibiting for-profit hospitals from passing patients incapable of paying for services to another facility. From his longtime position as CEO of Parkland Hospital, Dr. Anderson highlighted the role of the social determinants of health in patient outcomes and was a huge supporter of early work at Parkland Hospital that ultimately resulted in Pieces.