Woman of the Week: Dr. Virginia Apgar

During national Women’s History Month we will be posting a short biography of some of the most inspiring pioneers of women’s health every week. This week our woman in the spotlight is Dr. Virginia Apgar, M.D.

Dr. Virginia Apgar, M.D., (born in 1909, and died in 1974) is best known for developing a standardized system to evaluate the health of newborn babies. According to March of Dimes, her system, the Apgar Score, was developed in 1952 before the era of fetal monitors and involved looking at the infant’s breathing, skin color, muscle tone, reflexes, and pulse.

Apgar was director of the division of anesthesia at Columbia, during which she studied obstetrical anesthesia. Apgar was also the first woman to earn the title of full professor at the college of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, in 1949. Apgar went on to become director of the division of congenital effects at what is now the March of Dimes.

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