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Virginia Apgar

Have you heard of the Apgar score given to newborn babies? For Kerra’s 1 cool thing she talks about the fascinating woman who invented the score, Virginia Apgar. The gal pals also talk about their most frightening medical issues and how they survived them.

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Show Notes & Links

  • Previous in Medical Month Bonnie talked about Menstrual Cups and Katie talked about Lillian Wald.
  • Get-to-know-you question: What is the most frightening medical issue you have had or been around?
  • Katie’s spine story!
  • Shingles!
  • Leah saves a life!
  • Appendicitis and didn’t know it!
  • Where are the hospitals? Getting sick on the road
  • Kerra’s 1 Cool Thing is Virginia Apgar
  • The Apgar Score


  • When the test is given
  • What the numbers mean
  • About Virginia Apgar
  • About her family and growing up


  • Studied zoology, physiology, and chemistry
  • A Columbia University graduate
  • Discouraged from being a surgeon
  • Incouraged to be an anesthesiologist (which was new at the time)
  • Virginia went to the first anesthesiology program in Madison, WI.
  • The first woman to head a specialty division at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (currently The NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital)
  • CORRECTION: Not the same as Elizabeth Blackwell’s hospital that one is currently the NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital
  • 1949 Anesthesiology became its own department
  • Virginia was not made in charge
  • She became a teacher at Columbia
  • She noticed the first 24 hours were crucial the survival of infants and designed a test


  • By the 1960s many hospitals started using the Apgar score
  • In 1959 Virginia went to work for the March of Dimes
  • She wrote and lectured extensively
  • 1964 Rubella pandemic
  • Promoted the effective use of RH testing
  • Talked to teenagers about pregnancy in a time when very few did
  • Publications
  • Her thoughts on gender and gender equality
  • Never married or had kids
  • A musical person who made her own instruments!
  • Learned to fly at age 50
  • Awards


  • Google Doodle
  • Dedicating a life to helping others
  • Next week is Leah’s 1 Cool Medical Thing

Medical Kerra square


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What if you could only share 1 cool thing about a topic? Would it be about ancient history? Would it be breaking news? Would it be safe for work? A group of gals gathers to present to you one cool thing on topics like painting, gaming, movies, music and more.

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