In 1995 Congress passed resolutions requesting presidents to proclaim March Women’s History Month, celebrating the valuable contributions and achievements women from varied backgrounds have made over the course of American history, improving our lives in countless ways. This list includes women working as doctors, nurses, midwives, health experts, activists and advocates who have a long history working to heal patients, study diseases, and improve access to healthcare. Here are just a few of the outstanding women who helped shape the history of American healthcare.
Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (1821-1910). Dr. Blackwell was the first woman in the U.S. to get a medical degree and whose later academic affiliations helped further support and encourage women hoping to pursue careers in medicine.
Clara Barton (1821-1912). Her work as a highly acclaimed Civil War nurse led her to found the American Red Cross, an organization that would—and continues to—provide humanitarian relief for a wide variety of crises.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). Her work as a nurse in the Crimean War led Florence Nightingale to improve the standard for hospital and care facilities, and set new standards for safe nursing practices that continue today.
Alice Hamilton, M.D. (1869-1970). As a pioneer in industrial health and worker safety over her long lifetime, Dr. Hamilton laid the foundation for health and safety protections and a drive to protect vulnerable workers.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D. (1831-1895). Dr. Crumpler was the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, and to battle deep-seated prejudice against women and African Americans in medicine.
Antonia Novello, M.D. (1990). The first woman and Hispanic person to become surgeon general, Dr. Novello dedicated her life to fighting health disparities among the poor and minority groups.
How to celebrate Women’s History Month
Visit the CDC’s Office of Women’s Health (OWH) and view reports on the current CDC research, prevention programs, services, treatment, and public and professional education activities for women and girls. https://www.cdc.gov/women/womenshealthcdc/index.htm
Join or support organizations that promote women’s/girls’ health and their well-being, whether in the realm of reproductive health, maternal health, mental health, preventive
health, sports/fitness, and more.
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