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Black History Month meets Women’s History Month

Black History Month meets Women’s History Month.

February has just ended and March has just begun – what a better way to celebrate these two important groups than by highlighting their impact and successes in the medical field!

African-Americans have faced inequities within the healthcare industry for decades (see how Stormont Vail Health practices health equity in our organization). However, the black community has taken this injustice and used it as an inspiration to drive their outstandingly impactful contributions to the medical field that we use, and work in, today.

  • PATRICIA BATH (1941-2019)

Noticing that rates of blindness and visual impairments were much higher at the Harlem Hospital eye clinic, which served black patients, as opposed to the Columbia University eye clinic that served a mostly white population, Patricia Bath became the first American-American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. Dr. Bath went on to do multiple studies, win countless awards, and most important, improve healthcare for her community.

  • REBECCA LEE CRUMPLER (1831-1895)

Rebecca Lee Crumpler changed the face of medicine forever when she became the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States in 1864. Dr. Crumpler challenged prejudices and laid the foundation for others in the black community to pursue a degree in medicine.

Women, in general, have also provided much-needed diversity to healthcare providers and have proved themselves to be instrumental in the advancements of the medical field. While facing gender-based stereotypes and a field ran entirely by men, women pushed forward the promotion of equal rights and the betterment of healthcare.

  • ELIZABETH BLACKWELL (1821-1910)

After facing hardships and discrimination, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the U.S. and even graduated as top of her class in 1849. Dr. Blackwell opened a hospital with a mission to provide positions to women physicians and opened a medical college for women to support those in the female community that wanted to follow in her medical footsteps.

  • MARY EDWARDS WALKER (1832-1919)

Not only was Dr. Walker the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army, but she is the only woman in the history of the United States that has received the Presidential Medal of Honor for her work during the Civil War. Dr. Walker was a women’s right advocate, an abolitionist, and a true inspiration to women in the medical field.

If there’s anything to take away from this, let it be: Never let discrimination, inequities, or naysayers stand in the way of your dreams – dare to proceed.

If you’re inspired by this list and are wanting to learn more about trailblazers in the women and black communities, in the healthcare and other fields, be sure to check out the list of resources below!

 

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