Honoring Women Physicians During National Women’s History Month

During the month of March, we give a little extra attention to all of the amazing accomplishments of strong, determined women. Since 1987, the United States has formally recognized March as National Women’s History Month. Every woman has a story to tell and gifts to share with the world. So get ready, because this month is about honoring magnificent ladies, and we are ready to celebrate it to the fullest.

How To Observe National Women’s History Month

There are countless ways to honor the women in your life and to let them know that you support and cherish them. Here are a few ways we suggest:

Write to them. 

In today’s digital age, it’s rare to get a handwritten letter of appreciation. It can be a card, a little note, or a full-blown essay on why they rock. The recipient can be your loved one, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, coworker, doctor or physician, political figure — any woman that you want to make it known to that you appreciate them.

Have a girl’s outing. 

Girls, this one is for you. Take your female friends out and just have a good time. Celebrate each other and let them know just how much they mean to you. It’s the small gestures that often mean the most, after all.

Educate yourself. 

Nothing says, “I care,” more than learning about significant women in history. Look online to see what women made an impact in your industry or your city and learn their names. Women are so often swept under the rug in history, so it’s important to know their names and accomplishments.

Today, we’re going to do just that. Here are noteworthy female physicians that you should know about.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910): First Woman to Receive a Medical Degree

Less than 200 years ago, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1849. Her drive and passion in medicine jumpstarted the movement that helped women gain entry to the medical field.

Her birthday, Feb. 3, is a day many celebrate the accomplishments of female physicians everywhere. At the same time, the day strives to bring improvements to the workplace for the growing number of women physicians entering the field of medicine.

In 1857, Dr. Blackwell, along with her sister Dr. Emily Blackwell and their colleague Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, opened a small clinic called the New York Infirmary for Women and Children to treat poor women.

During the Civil War, the Blackwell sisters trained nurses for Union hospitals.

In 1868, Blackwell opened a medical college in New York City. In 1875, she became a professor of gynecology at the new London School of Medicine for Women. She also helped found the National Health Society and published several books, including an autobiography, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women.

She died on May 31, 1910.

Patricia Goldman-Rakic, Ph.D. (1937-2003): Mapping the Brain

Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia — scientists’ understanding of these conditions and many more are founded on the groundbreaking research of Dr. Patricia Goldman-Rakic.

Dr. Goldman-Rakic received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1963. She set out to and achieved unprecedented insight into the brain’s frontal lobes. At the time, the prefrontal cortex was too complicated to research in detail, a problem Dr. Goldman-Rakic tackled head-on. She successfully mapped the region and shed light on such crucial functions as cognition, planning, and working memory.

Over her career, she published more than 200 papers and received numerous honors, including admission to the National Academy of Sciences in 1990. Her discoveries and insights into brain function forever changed our understanding of the mind and brain

She, unfortunately, died in a car accident in 2003.

Antonia Novello, MD (1944-Current): U.S. Surgeon General

Antonia Novello has numerous accomplishments under her belt, but the biggest two may be that she is the first Hispanic and the first woman to be named the United States Surgeon General, a title she earned in 1990.

Her childhood experience with a congenital digestive condition motivated her to pursue medicine. She had a dream to ensure that care was accessible to all — especially to families like hers, who could barely afford her treatment when she was younger.

After earning her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Novello pursued pediatrics before switching to a career in public health. She worked her way up at the National Institutes of Health for decades and eventually caught the attention of the White House.

Over the course of her career, Novello was committed to battling health inequities among the poor and minority groups. As surgeon general, Novello focused on protecting the young and the vulnerable.

We at IV Revival — a woman-owned business — hope you found these facts about three influential women in our history enlightening. Happy National Women’s History Month!

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