Women Physicians Day | February 3rd
In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the US. We honor her achievement and recognize Women Physicians Day on February 3rd, Dr. Blackwell’s birthdate.
Dr. Blackwell fought through poverty and prejudice to earn her medical degree. After being rejected by 29 medical schools, she was admitted to Geneva Medical College in upstate New York only after the Dean put her acceptance to the school to a student vote. All 150 students had to vote yes or she wouldn’t be accepted into the program. It seems that many of them voted yes, thinking the matter was a joke. They were surprised when she actually showed up, ready for her studies. It’s likely that the amazement continued for some of these men when she went on to graduate at the head of the class.
Throughout her career as a physician, Dr. Blackwell was committed to treating patients living in poverty, caring for women and babies and working on social reform issues including family planning, women’s rights, hygiene and Christian socialism. She also wrote on a wide range of subjects and trained nurses during the Civil War.
Her sister, Emily became the third woman awarded a medical degree in America. Together they started the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. It exists today as Beekman Downtown Hospital. She and her sister also started the Women’s Medical College, the first of its kind. The college also has the distinction of graduating the first black woman doctor in the US.
At the time of Blackwell’s death in 1910, there were more than 7,000 women doctors practicing in the US.
As we take a moment to remember, recognize and honor the many accomplishments of women physicians across the world on Women Physicians Day, it’s important to acknowledge some current challenges.
- The number of women doctors [has] gradually increased in the last two decades, 2016 statistics show 35% of physicians are women.
- A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year revealed that women doctors earn on average 8% less than their male counterparts.
- Nearly a third of women physicians report sexual harassment in the workplace and a large majority experiencing gender bias.
- Physician’s News Network reports burnout rates among women physicians are at 55%.
For a further look at the current state of medicine for women, check out this recent Wall Street Journal article.
Women Physician’s Action Committee
Finally, LACMA would like to recognize the Women Physician’s Action Committee for their ongoing commitment to increasing the number of women members in LACMA and in medicine in Los Angeles along with their emphasis on mentorship and leadership development.
The LACMA Women Physician’s Action Committee is made up of the following dedicated physician leaders:
Stephanie Booth, MD – Chair
Marineh Bojalian, MD
Monya De, MD
C. Freeman, MD
Susan Reynolds, MD
Heather Silverman, MD
Theressia Washington, MD
Leila Yoonessi, MD
Thank you for your service to the community and Happy Women Physicians Day!