Friday, April 13, 2007

History of women in medicine, Part II

Dr. Sima Desai delivered part two of her history of women in medicine talk to the first-year medical students this afternoon (see last week for part I). We heard about the businessman William Mullen, himself a failed medical student, who founded the Female Medical College of Philadelphia.

While the school would eventually go on to accept female students from twenty countries and almost all of the United States, the first class was comprised of only eight women seeking medical degrees (thirty-two more women attended classes as "listeners"). One of those eight was Ann Preston, who would go on to become the first female dean of a medical school. (No small feat, considering that to this day, there have only been four female deans of American medical schools.)

Desai also talked about Mary Putnam Jacobi (scion of the Putnam publishing family and future wife of Dr. Abraham Jacobi) who graduated from the Women's Medical College in 1864 before going on to become the first woman accepted into the Ecole de medecine in Paris in 1868. She won the Boylston Medical Prize in 1876; her anonymous entry on the topic of whether women needed to rest during menstruation and if so, to what extent, summarized the responses from hundreds of questionnaires she sent out to women in various occupations. When she died in 1905, none other than Dr. William Osler described Putnam as having a "heliotropic potency."

This two-part presentation on the history of women in medicine dovetails nicely into next week's lecture on Esther Pohl Lovejoy, M.D., an alumna of the University of Oregon Medical School and a physician of notable achievement. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Lecture details:
Title: "Esther Clayson Pohl Lovejoy, M.D., University of Oregon Medical School Class of 1894: Oregon's Doctor to the World"
Guest Speaker: Kimberly Jensen, Ph.D., Dept. of History and the Gender Studies Program, Western Oregon University
Date: April 20, 2007
Time: 12:15 p.m.
Location: Old Library Auditorium

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