Famous and Infamous Medical Symbols

Published: 22nd June 2010
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The record of the medical career has gone through great landmark and it has continued to flourish even up to date. The medical and even the nursing profession has been widely connoted to Hollywood films and just a decade ago has been famously used as main context for primetime TV programs such as Grey's Anatomy, Nurse Jackie, E.R. House, Mercy, and many more. In distinction with the present world situation, these two professions are really part of the most important jobs in the world. Primarily, the country is at war with Iraq and Afghanistan insurgencies and each country tackles internal conflict thus any casualty that would arise from these conflicts would need an intervention from the professionals in medical scrubs. Not to mention the ever-growing figure of older people and the growing numbers and degrees of illnesses that the world run into speaks of itself that doctors and nurses are really needed.

It is but suitable to think about the background of the medical and nursing professions and the symbols these professions are associated with. The Red Cross (or the Red Crescent) for instance is a widely accepted symbol at times of peace more so at times of war. But there are other symbols that a non-medical person would not understand.

Let us get those renowned symbols that are used by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical practitioners. You will see that these logos are often embroidered if not on their lab coats, on their choice of medical scrubs or hospital uniforms.

1. The Lamp - This is a universally accepted symbol for nurses' profession that means wisdom. This is associated also with Florence Nightingale who laid the foundation of professional nursing and was called "the lady with the lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night to tend injured soldiers.

2. Rx - This symbol is mostly seen at the door of a doctor's clinic or on prescriptions. Rx is a symbol coming from the Roman god Jupiter. But Rx is not a symbol for or of doctors but a symbol widely accepted for pharmacy. The closest interpretation of the symbol is that it is an abbreviation of the Latin recipere which means "take thou."

3. Cup of Hygieia - Hygieia is the Greek god of healing. This is also known as the Bowl of Hygieia. This is associated with the practice of pharmacy. The snakes in the first three symbols according to Wikipedia mean wisdom and healing.

4. Staff of Asklepios - This sign constitutes a staff with an entwining snake. This was named after the Greek god Asclepius - the god associated with healing, astrology, and medicine. This is used by numerous medical organizations around the world and army medical corps.

5. Caduceus - The most commonly and famously known symbol of medicine or the nursing profession is the Caduceus. The Caduceus is composed of a staff with two snake intertwining with head facing each other and has angel wings atop of it. The caduceus was been first used by a 19th century medical publisher and was known to have been a wrong depiction of the Staff of Asklepios. Dentistry also use this symbol but with a little twist - integrating of the delta sign to connote the letter "D" for dentistry. In mythology, caduceus is a staff of Hermes.

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