Dr. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) of Tenafly developed the Newborn Scoring System, otherwise known as the Apgar System, which allows medical professionals to quickly evaluate the medical condition of a newborn.
In 1933, Apgar graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and quickly became the fifth woman to intern in surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Five years later, Apgar made history as the first woman to lead a department when she took over as the director of the anesthesiology division at Columbia Presbyterian. She remained in that position until 1949 and resigned in order to join the anesthesiology faculty at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Apgar created her world-renowned scoring system in 1952. The test is administered both one and five minutes after the birth. It rates babies on a scale of 0 to 2 on each of the following five signs: heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes and color. The Apgar System has become a standard procedure in hospitals worldwide. An accomplished medical professional, Apgar has been recognized for her contributions with the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Medicine from the Alumni Association of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was also named the 1973 Woman of the Year in Science and Research by the Ladie’ Home Journal and that same year received the Ralph M. Waters Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists.