Friday is National Women Physicians Day, celebrated every year on the anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, the very first female physician in the United States, receiving her medical degree in 1849. Dr. Blackwell promoted medical education among women, both in the US and the UK. During her time in medical school, she was ostracized and even barred from participating in classroom instruction with her male colleagues. Through courage and determination, she persevered and graduated first in her class in 1849. She went on to practice medicine in London, Paris and eventually New York City — where she opened a medical college for women. She spent her life advocating for reform and equity. Thousands of women physicians and allies have followed in her footsteps — reshaping and advancing the practice of medicine.
Of course, there have been many other female pioneers in the field of medicine, historically and at Cooper. For example, in 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Another female medical pioneer was biologist and cytogeneticist Nettie Stevens (1861–1912), who discovered that X and Y chromosomes were responsible for sex determination. And thousands more.
The day is a celebration of all female physicians across the nation and the progress we have made. At the same time, it highlights the gender inequities which still exist. The bright light on the horizon is that 50% of medical students are women. Cooper has been committed to development of our talented women physicians and please take time this day to acknowledge all your female colleagues.
- Recognize, acknowledge, and show appreciation for the female physicians at Cooper every day, but especially on February 3rd.
- Show your support for female doctors by posting on social media. Share whatever you like to highlight the profession. This might include stories of female pioneers in medicine or personal anecdotes about female physicians who have touched your life. Use the following hashtags to reach as many people as possible: #NationalWomenPhysiciansDay or #WomenPhysiciansDay.
- Encourage our young women in CMSRU and our resident trainees to aspire to greatness.
- Support and mentor female physicians with research, networking, and career advancement.
GME Wellness Committee