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Today In History : January 23, 2022

On This Day In History
On January 23, 1849, Geneva Medical College in New York bestowed a medical degree upon Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to receive one. Her fellow students as well as medical professionals opposed the idea of a woman doctor. But Blackwell pursued her dream with passion and dedicated her life to treating the sick and furthering the cause of women in medicine.

Elizabeth felt compelled to become a doctor after a dying friend told her that her ordeal had been much worse because her physicians were all men. Elizabeth’s family approved of her ambition. However to the rest of society it was a joke. The students or Geneva Medical College voted in favor of accepting a woman to the college as a practical joke. Nevertheless, when Elizabeth Blackwell received her acceptance letter she started school..

Blackwell founded a hospital, the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, in 1857 with the help of her sister and another woman who had also followed in her footsteps and received a medical degree. She and her sister trained nurses during the Civil War and opened their own medical college in 1868. She eventually moved to London, becoming a professor of gynecology at the School of Medicine for Women.

The progress that started with Blackwell continues today. In 2017, for the first time ever, a majority of medical students in the United States were women.


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