September is the time when many people get caught up in the back-to-school healthcare shuffle with sports physicals, vaccinations, and routine checkups for the kids. September is also the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Women in Medicine Month, which celebrates the history, accomplishments, and future of women physicians.
Foundational Years for Women in Medicine
In the United States, the practice of modern medicine dates back to the early 17th century, when university-trained physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, and even barbers treated illnesses and injuries.
Yet it wasn’t until the 19th century that women officially joined the ranks of medical doctors in the U.S. In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, became the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. Further blazing the trail for women physicians and setting the foundation for diversity in medicine, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD, became the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. A physician and author, Dr. Crumpler achieved this milestone in 1864 – a full year before the American Civil War ended.
In the late 1800s, women doctors continued to break barriers in medicine, leadership, and advocacy when in 1876 Sarah Hackett Stevenson, MD, became the first woman doctor to join the AMA.
The 20th Century and Beyond
Dr. Stevenson set the stage for future women doctors to help drive medical policy, ethics, and education within the AMA. More than a century later, in 1998, Nancy Dickey, MD, was inaugurated as the AMA’s first female president. Dr. Dickey also served as the first female speaker of the AMA House of Delegates.
Women physicians also helped advance healthcare technologies in the 20th century to improve and enhance medical treatment for women and children. For example, Hannah Glidden Myrick, MD, who earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1900, developed some of the first X-ray film used at New England Hospital for Women and Children, where she was also superintendent for 10 years.
Today, women physicians continue to evolve healthcare at every level – from family medicine and emergency care to specialties such as OB-GYN, advanced cardiovascular care, cancer services, and more.
Throughout September – and year-round – Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital will celebrate the historic accomplishments and future breakthroughs of women in medicine, including those of Anita Ekambaram, MD, our chief quality officer; Jessica Gielow, DO, our vice chairperson of surgery; and all of the women physicians who deliver world-class healthcare through our facility every day.
Learn more about our team of women in medicine or choose a doctor who’s a perfect match for your health needs at OrlandoHealth.com.