Born on February 3, 1821 in Bristol, England Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female doctor. She grew up in New York with her radical family. Her father was heavily into abolitionism and the family had radical religious views for the time. Elizabeth’s views were no different. In order to avoid marriage Elizabeth decided she wanted to become a doctor. When she applied to medical school all of them turned her down thinking it was absurd to have a female doctor. After rejections to 29 medical schools, Blackwell applied to Geneva College in Geneva, New York. The administration decided to allow the students decide whether or not to admit her. The student body thinking it was a joke voted to admit her.

At medical school Elizabeth Blackwell was shunned and often banned from certain lectures seeming inappropriate for a lady. She stood patient and over time was slowly accepted at the school. She ended up graduating first in her class and therefore becoming the first female physician.

After working in England for six years she returned in 1857 and tried to work in the United States. Very few people were willing to come to her. They were still nervous about having a female doctor. Because of this she and her sister (who had just graduated medical school) opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in New York City. The infirmary helped poor women and children with medical needs. Soon after they opened a medical school for women as part of the infirmary.

Elizabeth worked in the US and England as a doctor and professor up until a couple years before her death on May 31, 1910. During her life she helped start the Women’s Center Association of Relief, the National Health Society in London, and the London School of Medicine for Women.

Elizabeth started a revolution and we can thank her for proving to the world that women are just as mentally competent as men in the study of medicine. She opened a world to us that now women and men can choose to see a female doctor if they feel more comfortable. And now young girls can aspire to become doctors and scientists without the same judgments that Elizabeth was faced with.

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