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  • Writer's pictureDr Essence Johnson

Happy Women Physicians Day from PHHS V.O.I.C.E.S. ERG

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

Today is National Women Physicians Day! And Parkland has some of the best working throughout our public health system. In celebration of Black History Month, read below to learn about two women who have opened doors for Black women physicians in the U.S. Then, review the attachment to read about women physicians at Parkland who have followed in their footsteps and are breaking barriers of their own. Please send a message of gratitude letting them know how valuable they are to the work we do in the hospital and out in the community.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler challenged both the prevailing prejudice against the place of women and systemic prejudice against African Americans by becoming the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. Born in 1831 in Delaware, she worked as a nurse for eight years before being admitted to the New England Female Medical College (pictured left) in 1860. Her graduation in 1864 made her the first black woman to earn a formal degree as a physician. In spite of the fact that she grew up in the Jim Crow South in Pittsburg, Texas, Mildred Jefferson was determined to achieve a medical degree. In 1947, she was admitted to Harvard Medical School, and in 1951 became the first black woman to graduate from that institution. Jefferson pursued a career as a surgeon at Boston University Medical Center and a professor of surgery at the university's medical school. She was famously quoted as saying, "I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live."

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