In 1909, what started as National Woman’s Day, has now turned into National Women’s History Month. Every March, we focus on strides that women have made and are still making when it comes to equity and equality in all spectrums of life. It’s also a time to learn more about Women’s history, and the amazing leaders who have helped not only women but all people in various facets of life. This week we look at amazing female leaders in the world of health care.
It all started in 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman MD in the United States. According to https://www.womenshistory.org, “Blackwell was inspired to pursue medicine by a dying friend who said her suffering would have been better, had she had a female physician. Most male physicians trained as apprentices to experienced doctors; there were few medical colleges and none that accepted women, though a few women also apprenticed and became unlicensed physicians.” After facing years of discrimination and obstacles, in 1868 Blackwell opened a small medical clinic to treat poor women and in 1857, she opened The New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister as her colleague. Later she would go on to open a medical college and become a professor of gynecology, as she continued to advocate for proper women’s healthcare. Later, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD would be the first African American MD in the United States.
Gerty Theresa Cori, Ph.D., would also break ground as the first woman to earn a Nobel Prize in Science. According to ACS, Chemistry for Life, Cori would work alongside her husband to create the Nobel-winning Cori Cycle, which explained how glucose is metabolized, changing the future of diabetes forever in marvelous ways. They looked at the ways in which the body uses energy from food, and their techniques are still vital today. https://www.ACS.org says, “Though the couple received many awards, Gerty Cori was excluded from some of the recognition. While all their work was collaborative, she wasn’t elected to the National Academy of Science until eight years after her husband’s election. Gerty did receive the Society’s Garvan Medal in 1948, awarded to women for their excellence in the chemical field.” While they may have tried to keep Gerty’s name from all her recognitions, her work is still valued and used today!
Here in our own NEK, we have many female leaders in Medicine too, just recently our own Pediatrician, Dr. Alex Bannach, was the 2021 recipient of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAPVT) Green Mountain Pediatrician Award. Dr. Bannach was selected by her colleagues throughout the state for her commitment to advocating for her patients and their families and her consistent efforts to improve health outcomes, right here in our hometowns. NCH is proud to have women working all over our institution and in all our departments from those behind the scenes in billing and coding to the amazing women in the laboratory and radiology to the faces you see at your appointments, who help take the very best care of all of us.
Women’s History Month doesn’t just represent strong-willed and empowering women, it doesn’t just represent amazing milestones in healthcare and science developments, it also represents a dream come true mentality, that probably started well before its start in 1909 and will far outlast any of us. It’s a mentality that says, if you dream it, you can and you will do it. Women’s History Month proves that the impossible, can become possible, yesterday, today, and tomorrow! Take some time this month to investigate Women’s History in areas that matter to you! You might be surprised that your favorite books, movies, clothes, artwork, fitness classes, doctors, teachers, and friends, come from a lineage of brave, and heroic women. Women can do amazing things, and it’s because of the women before us and their perseverance to learn, teach and share, that we can bring even more value to this month, a month that represents a continuous movement we should all want to be a part of, Women’s History Month.
Director of The Wellness Center