Posted on 03/07/2012
Dr Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman doctor in the western world. She faced extreme sexual prejudice in her attempts to qualify. Unable to gain entrance to a British medical school, she attended Geneva Medical School in New York and in 1849 became the first woman to complete a course of study and receive the M.D. degree. Banned, by her gender, from practising in most hospitals in America, she established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. Returning to England in 1857, she attended Bedford College and became the first woman doctor to be entered on the General Medical Council's medical register. Once again in the United States, Elizabeth played a notable part in the American Civil War, training numerous women as nurses for the Union side. As the War ended she established the Women's Medical College in New York to train women doctors. Back in England from 1869, helping to found the National Health Society, with her friend Florence Nightingale, and the London School of Medicine for Women. In 1875 she became Professor of Gynaecology at the London School of Medicine for Women.