Student Post: Celebrating Women in Medicine Means Acknowledging Pioneers, Past Contributions

Did you know that September is Women in Medicine Month (#WIMmonth)?

As September nears its end, I asked myself whether I have truly appreciated the remarkable journey and accomplishments of women in medicine before me.

Despite passing by headshots of CHM graduates in the Secchia Center hallways on a daily basis, I had not stopped to think about their struggles and challenges as women and minorities in medicine. These women overcame unique obstacles and fought for equality so that a woman like me can be where we are today.

Women have come a long way and statistics show a growing number of women choosing careers in medicine. In celebration of Women in Medicine Month, I would like to highlight a few historical women who truly made a difference in and for medicine.

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD
It has been less than 200 years since the United States accepted its first female medical student into Geneva Medical College in New York. After graduating, Blackwell opened The New York Infirmary for Women and Children to not only serve the underserved populations, but to train future female medical and nursing students as well. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell’s feat empowered women to continue striving for success.


Jane Addams
One of the college's four learning societies in the Shared Discovery Curriculum is named after Jane Addams, who began the study of medicine but left because of poor health. Addams became a pioneer social worker whose advocacy for women's rights helped further opportunities in medicine and education among others.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD
In 1864, Dr. Crumpler became the first African-American woman to receive an MD degree. Her 'Book of Medical Discourses' is one of the first medical publications by an African-American, a great accomplishment in a time when few African-Americans were able to gain admittance to medical school, let alone publish.

Gerty Cori, MD
Another Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Cori was the first American woman to win the award in Physiology or Medicine. She was also the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Science.

Virginia Apgar, MD
In 1952, Dr. Apgar created the Apgar Score, a standardized test to check a baby’s health. This came after she became the first woman to be a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Michigan State University has also been a leader in supporting women in higher education. In 1972, MSU ranked first in the nation in the number of women enrolled on a single campus.

Then in 1985, MSU became the first coeducational university medical school in the nation with a class made up of more than 50 percent women! The College of Human Medicine’s recent matriculating class took a cue from history—60 percent are women, a five percent increase from the
previous year.

I am grateful to be studying at MSU where both women and men continue to learn and grow together. Though we are constantly moving towards making positive changes in medicine, the need for improvement remains.

Now, as a first year medical student and a woman, I too am responsible for the continuous transformation in medicine and creating an environment of equal opportunities and treatment regardless of gender, race, and background.

Video credit: American Medical Association

Eunice Lee is an Early Clinical Experience (first-year) student at the College of Human Medicine. A native of California, Lee studied Biology at UCLA and also has a graduate degree in Pharmaceutical Discovery and Development from Keck Graduate Institute. 


Popular posts from this blog

After Acceptance: A User’s Guide to Preparing for Medical School