Five Historical Female Physicians


Today we celebrate National Women Physician’s Day by honoring the 195th birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Blackwell opened the door for women to enter the field of medicine. One of the best parts of my role as a Physician Recruiter is working with women physicians every day. Check out my list of 5 amazing women physicians that have shaped our health and changed the world.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

In her early years, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was repelled by the idea of studying medicine. She decided to pursue it after a close friend who was dying suggested she would have been spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman. This experience shaped young Elizabeth’s viewpoint and she went on to graduate New York’s Geneva Medical School in 1849 as the first woman to graduate from a United States Medical School. She supported women throughout her career by co-founding an infirmary for women and children while authoring important books and articles that changed the medical field including, Medicine as a Profession for Women.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

As the first African American woman to earn an MD in the United States, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler graduated from the New England Female Medical School in 1861. During the post-civil war era, she cared for freed slaves that would not have had access to medical care otherwise. She was known as a thought leader in her field due to her book, The Book of Medical Discourses as this was one the first medical publications written by an African American. Dr. Crumpler attributed her love of medicine to her favorite aunt in Pennsylvania, whose kindness and usefulness for the sick was continually sought after throughout the state.

Dr. Antonio Novello

Born in Puerto Rico in 1944, Dr. Novello suffered from a condition that could only be corrected by surgery. Her family couldn’t afford the procedure until she was 18 years old. This inspired Dr. Novello to study medicine. She went on to become the first female and the first Hispanic United States Surgeon General in 1990, as an advocate on behalf of minorities and women. Her tireless work on health issues such as AIDS, smoking and underage drinking has changed the face of medicine. Her criticism of the tobacco industry in the early nineties led to a change in regulations, removing cartoon characters from smoking advertisements. .

Dr. Susan Love

Dr. Love began a long career advocating for women’s health in 1980 when she became the first female surgeon at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. She developed a deep love for helping women with breast cancer and she decided to make it her life’s mission. Known as one of the “founding mothers” of the breast cancer awareness movement, she is an author, professor and member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. She went on to develop the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, an all-female team that studies innovative breast cancer treatments.

Dr. Christiane Northrup

Dr. Northrup has changed the way women view their health. She is a leading authority on wellness and she teaches her patients how to live well at every stage of life. She graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and practiced medicine for over 25 years. She is a best-selling author and focuses her writing on the unity of mind, body emotions and spirit. Her work as an OBGYN has inspired women to live a life of vibrant health on all levels while trusting their inner wisdom. Dr. Northrup now focuses on her role as a respected writer and speaker in Women’s Health.

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Source: Physicians Recruiting Blog