Updated: Mar 16
Happy Women's Day!!!
As you may already know, March is Women’s History Month, so I wanted to take the time to learn about some of the most incredible, revolutionary women, in both the fields of medicine and technology that paved the way for future people, both men and women, to excel. Although there are so many wonderful women that I wish I could write extensively about, I decided to just choose the few that are, or should be, known as accomplished icons globally. So, with that being said, let’s learn about some amazing women!
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910):
Dr. Blackwell is an iconic household name, and as the first women in the United States to be granted an MD, she deserves it. But, did you know she was turned down by more than 10 medical schools only because she was a woman? One of her professors did advise her to disguise herself as a man, but Blackwell refused, believing that it was a “moral crusade” to get into a college as a woman. She was ultimately accepted to Geneva Medical College and founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, as well as the subsidiary, Women’s Medical College, to encourage more women in their own medical careers.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895):
Dr. Crumpler was the first African American woman to receive an MD, and she was also the only African American lady to graduate from New England Female Medical College, as it soon after merged with Boston Medical College. Crumpler was incredibly caring for her patients, as she knew she was going to be a doctor at a very young age, looking up to her aunt. Following the Civil War, she moved to Virginia to care for formerly enslaved people, and even though she suffered immense racism and sexism, she said that “the experience taught her a great deal about providing care.” Crumpler eventually moved back to Boston where she took care of her patients lovingly and with vigor.
Susan Laflesche Picotte (1865-1915):
Dr. Picotte was the first Native American Woman to earn an MD degree. When she was young, she saw a Native American woman die because a white doctor refused to care for her. I believe that this was her motivation to become a doctor. After encouragement from one of her patients, she graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at the top of her class. On top of serving a large population on her reservation and pursuing political reforms, Picotte achieved her lifelong dream by opening her own hospital in Waterhill, Nebraska.
Virginia Apgar (1909-1974):
Dr. Apgar devised the Apgar score which is the gold standard for determining the health of a newborn and the first tool to assess a baby’s present and future health risks, as well as the need for potentially life saving observation. It is still used today. When she first graduated, Apgar apparently wanted to go into a surgery but after discouragement from a mentor, she decided to go into anesthesiology. Before her time, doctors usually could not effectively monitor the health status of a baby, and lost many children that could have been saved. So, she came up with an influential checklist, and also studied the effect of anesthesia on newborns. In her 50’s, Apgar pursued a second career in public health, and drove public attention to preventing birth defects.
For more information, or to read about some more amazing women in these fields, take a look at some of the sources I used, as well as further reading.
Also, make sure to comment and rate the post below!
Weiner, Stacy. “Celebrating 10 Women Medical Pioneers.” AAMC, 3 Mar. 2020, www.aamc.org/news-insights/celebrating-10-women-medical-pioneers.
“13 Women in STEM Who Changed the World.” International Women’s Day, International Women’s Day, 2015, www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/7213/13-Women-in-STEM-Who-Changed-the-World.
Updated, James Barham Published: “Influential Women in Medicine from the Last 10 Years | Academic Influence.” Academicinfluence.com, academicinfluence.com/rankings/people/women-scholars/medicine.