5 Interesting Facts About Elizabeth Blackwell

5 Interesting Facts About Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell is recognized as the first female doctor who served in the United States after graduating from medical school. This made her a natural leader in the movement to secure equal rights for women and she pressed hard to give women a fair chance at a modern education.

1. Rejected By All

Blackwell applied to many different schools so that she could further her education. All of the schools openly rejected her application not because she wasn’t qualified, but because she was a woman. One college, Geneva Medical College, decided to ask the student body about admitting her. The students thought it was a practical joke, so they approved her admission.

2. First In Her Class

When she first started attending classes, her professors would remove her from the classroom demonstrations because it was deemed that having a woman present was “unsuitable.” Blackwell eventually won everyone at the college over with her persistence and ability to learn medical concepts. By 1849, she graduated at the top of her class to be the first woman doctor in what is considered modern medicine.

3. A Leader in Cleanliness

Blackwell always emphasized cleanliness in medicine, which was unusual for her era. She believed that sanitary conditions could help to prevent some of the post-operative problems that patients experienced after treatment. She then transitioned this emphasis in cleanliness to every day life and encouraged better daily living habits. Blackwell even founded the US Sanitary Commission, which would be influential in beginning the first medical school for women in London.

4. A Private Practice

Blackwell applied to become a physician at a number of different medical providers, but no one at the time wanted to put a woman on staff. She would eventually start her own private practice from her apartment with the help of her sister.

5. An Influential Teacher

Blackwell would go on to establish schools and take several tours as a lecturer to support the education of women. This would cause her to become the first woman that the British Medical Register would list as a practicing doctor in the country.

Elizabeth Blackwell would chart a new course for women in the field of medicine. Her education may have initially be thought of as a practical joke, but she took her opportunity and turned it into something that would change the world.