History of the Bowl of Hygeia award
History of the Bowl of Hygeia Award
Editor's note: This article was prepared by Jared Savage, the first Bowl of Hygeia Summer Intern for Wyeth and the American Pharmaceutical Association.
This summer I had a wonderful experience serving as the first Bowl of Hygeia Summer Intern for Wyeth and the American Pharmaceutical Association. In this capacity, I dedicated three months to the historical research of the Bowl of Hygeia Award. It is now my honor to present a summary of my findings to you.
What is the Bowl of Hygeia?
The pharmacy profession has used numerous symbols over the past centuries. These symbols include, but are not limited to, the mortar and pestle, the Rx sign, various alchemical symbols, the show globe, the green cross, the salamander, "A" for apothecary (Apotheke), and the Bowl of Hygeia.
The Bowl of Hygeia is the most widely recognized international symbol for the profession of pharmacy today. Several sources indicate that the symbol may have been used as an emblem of St. John dating back to first century a.d. This is based on the legend that a trophy containing poison was offered to the apostle. There is also speculation that the Bowl of Hygeia was used as a symbol for the apothecaries of Italy in 1222, since they used this emblem during the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the founding of the University of Padua.
However, no proof has been found to substantiate either of these claims. We do know that the Bowl of Hygeia was associated with pharmacy as early as 1796, when the symbol was used on a coin minted for the Parisian Society of Pharmacy.
The Bowl of Hygeia originated from Greek mythology and is universally depicted as a snake wrapped in one manner or another around a bowl. Aesculapius (pronounced Es-Kah-Lay-Pi-Ous and sometimes spelled Asklepios) was the Greek god of medicine and healing. He was the son of Apollo, who was the son of Zeus. Zeus became afraid that Aesculapius would render all men immortal because of his healing power, so he killed him with a thunderbolt.
Temples were built for Aesculapius, and harmless serpents were found inside. These serpents appeared dead because they were stiff. However, when picked up and dropped, they slithered away. The people at that time thought the serpents were brought back to life by the healing powers of Aesculapius, which ultimately caused them to become the symbol of healing.
Hygeia, the daughter of Aesculapius and the goddess of health, is usually depicted with a serpent around her arm and a bowl in her hand because she tended to the temples containing these snakes. We have since separated the serpent and the bowl from Hygeia, and this has become the internationally recognized symbol of pharmacy. Now the bowl represents a medicinal potion, and the snake represents healing. Healing through medicine is precisely why pharmacy has adopted the Bowl of Hygeia symbol. APhA adopted the Bowl of Hygeia as its symbol to represent the pharmacy profession in 1964.
What is the Bowl of Hygeia Award?
The Bowl of Hygeia Award is a community service award and is represented by a 10-in. by 13-in. mahogany plaque, upon which is mounted a brass casting of the Bowl of Hygeia with an engraved plate containing the name of the recipient, the state/province presenting the award, and the date of the presentation. The program was initiated by E. Claiborne Robins, then president of A. H. Robins Co., which was located in Richmond, Va. Robins, a pharmacist, was very involved in community service activities and desired to foster that same sort of feeling among pharmacists around the nation. In 1958, he developed the idea for the Bowl of Hygeia Award for pharmacists who possess outstanding records of civic leadership in their own communities.
The Bowl of Hygeia Award was presented for the first time on Feb. 18, 1958, during the Iowa Pharmaceutical Association's Annual Convention in Des Moines. The recipient was Richard M. Hofmann of Ottumwa. In addition to Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, and Rhode Island also presented the Bowl of Hygeia Award in 1958. The following year, associations in 27 other states and the District of Columbia made their initial presentations of the award. The award has been presented annually in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico since 1967, when the New Jersey Pharmaceutical Association joined the program and made its first presentation to Donald "Don" Wernik.
In 1961, the Bowl of Hygeia Award program was expanded to include Canada when the Pharmaceutical Association of the Province of British Columbia presented the award to George T. Cunning of Vancouver. The award has been presented annually in each of the 10 Canadian provinces since 1967 when Prince Edward Island made its first presentation.
In 1989, American Home Products acquired A. H. Robins, and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories became the sponsor of the award. In 2002, to better reflect its heritage, AHP changed its name to Wyeth and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories became Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
How are recipients selected?
Each recipient of the award is selected by the pharmaceutical association in his or her state or province (and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) with the primary criterion being an outstanding record of community service and leadership. Selection committees are required to use the following criteria:
1. The recipient must be a pharmacist, licensed within the jurisdiction in which the award is made.
2. The recipient must be living. Awards are not presented posthumously.
3. The recipient may not have previously received the award.
4. The recipient may not be currently serving, nor may he or she have served within the immediate past two years, on the awards committee or as an officer of the association in other than an ex officio capacity.
5. The recipient must have completed an outstanding record of community service, which apart from his or her specific identification as a pharmacist, reflects well on the profession.
Historically, most winners of the Bowl of Hygeia Award are community pharmacy owners who advance the standards of pharmacy. In addition to service through their local, state, and national pharmaceutical associations, award recipients have devoted their time, talent, and resources to a wide variety of interests.
Some of the recipients have represented their respective communities in state legislatures or in statewide offices. Many have served as mayor or a member of their community's governing body. Still others have filled important positions on planning committees for their local hospital, school, and other organizations. They have provided leadership for fund drives and countless special projects and have participated in the work of youth organizations, civic clubs, churches, and fraternal clubs. It is safe to say that over the years, Bowl of Hygeia Award recipients have been honored for virtually every type of community service.
In most states, the nominations for the award are prepared secretly. A peer or colleague of a deserving pharmacist will nominate that individual on the basis of his or her community service involvement. Leaders involved with the state or province associations select the winner and do not announce the results until the state or province pharmacy association meetingwhere the Bowl of Hygeia Award is presented.
Usually, the family of the award winner is invited secretly, and attendees of the meeting who are actively involved in community service wait with anticipation to discover the winner of the prestigious award. As a rule, the Bowl of Hygeia Award is the last award to be presented at the state or province pharmacy association meeting, and when the award winner is announced, the family members of the winner come out to see their loved one receive the award.
Every state or province pharmacy association presents the award in a unique manner, and the selection and presentation process mentioned above does not necessarily represent the process used in each location.
Wyeth also sponsors the presentation of a master Bowl of Hygeia Award plaque to each state pharmacy association. This beautiful plaque contains the brass casting of the Bowl of Hygeia, together with the name of all the past winners in the state, their hometown, and the date of the award presentation. Tom Temple, executive v.p. and CEO of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, developed the idea of the master plaque in 1992. Jacob W. Miller, now retired but then assistant v.p. of professional relations for Wyeth-Ayerst, obtained approval and developed the design of the plaque.
Each year, seven state plaques have been presented to different state pharmacy associations, and soon each state pharmacy association will have its own beautiful master plaque displaying its state's past Bowl of Hygeia Award recipients.
Let's get together!
Each fall since 1963, Bowl of Hygeia Award winners for the current year have been invited to be guests of the company for a special salute held at the company's headquarters. From 19631989, guests were invited to Richmond, and when A. H. Robins was acquired by AHP (now known as Wyeth) in 1989, the salute was moved to Philadelphia, where it is currently celebrated. The program in Philadelphia is highlighted by a gala reception and dinner customarily attended by the presidents of APhA, the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the National Council of State Pharmaceutical Association Executives, who bring congratulations to the honorees from their organizations.
In addition to the plaque, each of the Bowl of Hygeia Award winners is presented with a lapel pin at the Philadelphia gathering, which is a scale replica of the mahogany plaque. Robert G. Gibbs, former executive director of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, suggested the introduction of these pins in 1960. The pins were first presented in 1964, and a special distribution was made to all who had received the award in prior years. This is the first year (2002) that all recipients will receive the lapel pin. In past years, a stickpin was given to female recipients of the award.
In addition to the pin, a photograph is taken of the winner with his or her spouse or loved one, both standing next a beautiful, handmade, sterling silver Bowl of Hygeia. During the reception, the winners' loved ones are asked to explain the events leading up to the presentation of the award to their recipient. The stories often bring gales of laughter or gentle tears.
In conjunction with the special salute, Wyeth sponsors a full-page magazine advertisement that features photographs of the current-year award winners, indicating that these pharmacists have been cited for outstanding service to their respective communities. The ad was initially published in Time magazine and the NARD Journal in 1963. The ad for 1976 and subsequent years appeared in American Pharmacy (now the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association), the NARD Journal (now the National Community Pharmacists Association's America's Pharmacist), the Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, and state pharmacy association journals in an effort to provide greater recognition for the award winners.
The future of the Bowl of Hygeia Award
The Bowl of Hygeia Internship began in 2002 and is offered to pharmacy students. One applicant is accepted for this prestigious internship from a national applicant pool. Wyeth and APhA jointly sponsor this 12-week summer internship to provide exposure to various roles within the pharmaceutical industry, exposure to the associations, and the opportunity to conduct historical research into the prestigious Bowl of Hygeia Award.
Soon, Wyeth will sponsor the Bowl of Hygeia Leadership Series. This will be a series of lectures on leadership within the community. Wyeth will invite two or three of the past winners of the Bowl of Hygeia Award to speak on community leadership.
References are available upon request.
History of the Bowl of Hygeia award. Drug Topics 2002;19.