National Women’s History Month: Female Doctors

C & A Scientific is proud to spotlight female researchers who have made impressive advancements in science. In the past 25 years, women have made up at least 40% of medical students and 34% of total physicians. However, before this period, it was much more difficult for women to enter the world of medicine. Despite this, some extraordinary women became doctors and made monumental discoveries in the medical field. Here are some of these exceptional female doctors. 

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell is one of the first women in the United States to achieve a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. She received her degree in 1849. She attended Geneva Medical College in New York after being turned down by ten schools. Later, in 1857, she founded a hospital called the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.

Virginia Apgar 

Virginia Apgar was a female doctor who graduated in 1933 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, specializing in anesthesia. Apgar helped improve mother and infant mortality by providing a score for assessing the need for intervention for mothers and newborns. The Apgar score continues to be used today to evaluate how to treat infants within hours of birth.  

Joycelyn Elders

Joycelyn Elders was the first Black female doctor to become surgeon general of the United States in 1993. She graduated with an MD from the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1960 as the only woman in her class. In 1987, she was chosen to lead the Arkansas Department of Health, which led to her appointment as surgeon general.  

Susan La Flesche Picotte

Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American doctor in the United States and graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889. After completing medical school, she returned to her home, the Omaha Reservation, to serve as a doctor for the Office of Indian Affairs. She was eventually able to build a hospital for the Omaha reservation.

Getty Cori

Getty Cori was originally born in Prague and graduated from the Medical School of the German University of Prague in 1920. After graduating, she emigrated to the United States with her husband Carl and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. As husband and wife, Getty and Carl collaborated on their research and studied how sugar and insulin work. They were able to reveal how glycogen and starch develop in the womb, and they also determined how pituitary glands and hormones work and their impact on the rest of the body.  

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman in the United States to graduate medical school. She graduated in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College and established a medical clinic in Boston for poor women and children. She also published a book in 1883 called Book of Medical Discourses, which provided medical advice for women and children.

Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow received the Nobel Prize in 1977 for developing the radioimmunoassay technique. After graduating from Hunter College in New York City with a degree in physics, she went on to study nuclear physics. While she was not a medical doctor, she did receive her doctorate in physics. Her radioimmunoassay technique allows doctors to measure peptide hormones in the blood. Her technique was considered so precise that doctors could use it to scan for both HIV and hepatitis. Her work helped save incalculable lives because her process was vital to ensuring that blood transfusions could be safe and effective.

Marilyn Gaston

Marilyn Gaston initially studied zoology at Miami University, but later after graduating, enrolled in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, graduating with her MD in pediatrics in 1964. She made considerable advances in the study of sickle-cell disease. This sickle-cell condition impacts red blood cells and causes them to change shape and die early, causing an affected person severe infection and pain. Gaston’s study, published in 1986, determined that screening and treating infants who had contracted the disease early could drastically impact their chance of survival and a positive quality of life. 

Margaret Jessie Chung

Margaret Jessie Chung graduated from the University of Southern California Medical School in 1916 and opened a clinic in San Francisco in the 1920s. Chung was best known for becoming one of the first actively practicing female surgeons in the United States. She gained notoriety for her success rate in surgery and for attracting clientele and colleagues who many respected in Hollywood and the United States military. 

If you are a female medical student or doctor, you are already helping pave the way to over 50% of physicians in the United States being women! C & A is passionate about encouraging young minds to take an interest in STEM. Check out our line of products here to learn more about how we support the medical industry!

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