Do you know the significance of the name Elizabeth Blackwell? In 1849, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Thanks to the foundation Blackwell laid, many other women have impacted the medical field. To honor this pivotal moment in medicine, we now celebrate National Women Physicians Day on February 3, her birthday.
Medicine is a field that has seen incredible advancements and innovation, both technologically and culturally. Today, we are pleased to pay tribute to this particularly significant milestone for both women and the physician workforce. To celebrate, we’ve compiled some “fast facts” highlighting additional significant moments that have helped pave the way for women in medicine.
- The Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first women’s medical college, opens its doors in 1850 and takes 40 enrollees.
- In 1865, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker becomes the United States’ first female surgeon, the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army, and the first woman to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
- Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross in 1881.
- Harvard Medical School begins accepting women in 1945.
- Gerty Cori becomes the first woman in the United States to earn a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, receiving this accolade in 1947.
- Virginia Apgar becomes the first woman to become a professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1949. Then, in 1953, she created the Apgar score, the very first standardized evaluation tool for newborn babies.
- In 1965, about 10% of medical school enrollees are women.
- Nancy Dickey becomes the first female president of the American Medical Association in 1998.
- According to a 2015 report from AMA Insurance, 71% of female physicians earn at least three quarters of their family’s income.
- AMA Insurance also reports that 53% of surveyed women physicians claim to be either “ahead of schedule” or “on-track” with savings. One quarter of women physicians have more than $1,000,000 saved for retirement, including 4% who have more than $3,000,000 saved.
- National Women Physician Day is first celebrated in 2016.
- In 2017, for the very first time, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports more women than men are enrolled in U.S. medical schools.
We look forward to witnessing additional moments and milestones that help break the glass ceiling.
Whether you’re a locum tenens provider seeking a new opportunity, a permanent provider looking for your next move, or someone simply observing the field’s advancements, we hope you enjoyed these fast facts!