"There are three types of humans: men, women, and women physicians." - Sir William Osler
America's First Female Physicians
Debate exists over the first woman physician between Dr. Harriet Hunt and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Dr. Hunt was only allowed to receive an honorary degree from The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and completed an apprenticeship. Dr. Blackwell is the first to have a medical degree which is why many will say she is the first female doctor.
The Country's First African-American Female Doctors:
In honor of Black History Month it is also important to recognize Dr. Rebecca Crumpler. Dr. Crumpler challenged the prejudices that had prevented African-Americans from having careers in the medical field. She became the first African-American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree. Dr. Crumpler was also the only African-American woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical College.
"The world will be saved by the Western woman" - His Holiness, Dalai Lama
His Holiness, Dalai Lama, shared, "The world will be saved by the Western woman"
SIRI, Which Way Do I Turn Now?
Siri, which way do I turn now?
I am a physician. I am a woman. Put them together in a life cocktail and please do not color me pink. The road for female professionals working in male dominated fields is not full of pink butterflies and fluffy rainbows. The struggle to achieve work-life balance and stay true to our feminine identity is full of obstacles, road-blocks, and challenges. When many of us started medical school, we did not have a proverbial "Siri" to guide us through the process. Thankfully we now have organizations where female physicians collaborate, celebrate and create support for colleagues. One of the oldest and most robust groups is American Medical Women's Association which is celebrating 100 years as an organization supporting women in medicine.
The State of Medicine for Women Today
There are more women doctors today than at any point in our American history. Female physicians make up approximately 33% of the physician workforce in the United States compared to just 12% in 1981, according to the Physicians Foundation.
Our modern day healthcare system is toxic to physicians and our patients alike. When over 50% of doctors are suffering from career burnout, it is no wonder that patient satisfaction and perception of hospital systems is abysmal. Research studies consistently conclude that female doctors are more compassionate than their male counterparts. As a physician and mindfulness teacher, I believe that compassion is critical in building a foundation of the doctor-patient relationship.
National Women Physicians Day
February 3rd is now officially National Physician Women's Day. Show your support on social media using the hashtag: #NWPD.
Physician Moms Group is a non-profit organization that looks to bring awareness to the contributions of women physicians. Founder and CEO of the Physician Moms Group (PMG), Dr. Hala Sabry D.O., M.B.A., as well as her membership of over 48,000 physician-mothers, will support the observance in alignment with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell’s birthday.
The mission of PMG is to provide a platform for connecting like-minded individuals where they can share their medical expertise, seek and provide peer support, collaborate professionally, and build a collective voice to advocate for positive change in healthcare.
Finding Hope as a Female Physician
When we take a moment to celebrate the journey that women physicians have undergone for almost 200 years in the United States, we can use this rich history to connect to hope. If you are a physician or a patient trying to connect to hope, read my article on finding hope again.
In early medical history, the role of the doctor was to provide a cure, not compassion. The role of women in medicine is still changing this dynamic. Compassion will help to heal the fractured doctor-patient relationship. When share compassion, we connect to hope. When we have hope, we can then start healing.
Happy National Women Physicians Day,