Wednesday, June 16

Medical Breakthrough

I can’t imagine not having the choice between going to a male or female doctor. In a time when it was unheard of that a woman would become a doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell secretly studied medicine. She read books as part of her teaching. She and her older sisters had started a private school to support her family back in the early 1800s and after her father had died leaving them penniless. Her studies of medicine and the desire to give women who may be embarrassed to see a male doctor an option led her to apply to the country’s top medical schools. All of them rejected her application. She applied to a Geneva Medical College in Geneva, NY. The school board there put it up to the other students to decide if she should be admitted. They thought of it as some type of practical joke and signed the petition that would allow her to attend the school. Even after being admitted she was prohibited from certain classes that were deemed inappropriate for a woman to attend. However, she was able to break the stereotype that women could not become doctors when her fellow students saw her determination and ability. In 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell graduated at the top of her class. She goes on record as the first woman medical doctor in modern times.
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