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Happy Birthday Elizabeth Blackwell!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Blackwell!

Let’s celebrate the birthday of the first female doctor!

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was a British physician, best known for being the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.  In addition to this amazing accomplishment, she was also the first woman named on the UK Medical Register.  As the first woman to graduate from medical school, she championed the idea of female education and proved that women were just as capable as men.  To commemorate her birthday, let’s revel in these remarkable accomplishments that this trail blazing woman achieved.

1) Elizabeth was born to parents Samuel Blackwell and Hannah Blackwell.  Her father was very liberal when it came to his ideas on child rearing, religion, and social beliefs.  He strongly believed that all his children, regardless of gender should fully develop their minds and cultivate their talents.

2) At age 11, Elizabeth’s family moved to the United States.  After settling, the family faced a dire financial situation.  To bring in some income, Elizabeth and her sisters started The Cincinnati English and French Academy for Young Ladies, which charged for tuition, room, and board.

3) While she was originally interested in history and metaphysics, Elizabeth became interested in the idea of medicine after a dying female friend expressed her belief that she would have suffered less if she had a female doctor.

4) After being rejected by multiple medical schools, she applied to Geneva Medical College (now Hobart College) in New York.  The faculty of the school were not able to come to a decision, so they invited the 150 male students to vote.  If even one student objected, then she would be denied.  However, the students thought it was a joke and they voted unanimously to accept her.  Thus, in October 1847, she accepted Geneva Medical College’s invitation to study.

5) The male students at Geneva Medical College treated her very well.  Rather than teasing or shunning her, they turned into well behaved gentlemen in her presence.

6) On January 23rd, 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell received her medical degree at age 28.  As she was awarded her degree, the dean of the college, Charles Lee, stood from his chair and offered her a courtly bow.

7) When she was working as an obstetrician, she accidentally sprayed a contaminated solution in her left eye.  She subsequently lost sight in that eye and was not able to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon.

8) Following in her big sister’s footsteps, Emily Blackwell became the third woman in the United States to earn a medical degree.

9) She established the New York Infirmary in 1857 which offered a practical solution to one of the problems facing women who were rejected from internships elsewhere but determined to expand their skills as physicians.

10)  She also published several important books on the issue of women in medicine, including Medicine as a Profession For Women in 1860 and Address on the Medical Education of Women in 1864.

Join us at  The Maria Sanchez Show as we remember the amazing life and accomplishments of Elizabeth Blackwell.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST.

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