Inspiring Women in Medicine


In 1889, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte became the first Native American woman to receive a medical degree, 35 years before Native Americans were recognized as US citizens. As a child, Dr. Picotte decided on a career in medicine after witnessing an Indian patient die because a white doctor had refused to give her care. She became the first person to receive federal aid for professional education and paved the way for women who needed help with funding for college tuition.

In 1947, Dr. Gerty Cori became the first woman in the US to earn a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the “discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen.”  She dedicated her career to research in biochemistry, metabolism, and physiology.  She studied how the body uses energy and she identified the enzyme that initiates the decomposition of glycogen into glucose.

Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig, was a pioneer in pediatric cardiology and helped establish the specialty when she published Congenital Malformations of the Heart in 1949. In 1965, she became the first female president of the American Heart Association.

In 1953, Dr. Virginia Apgar created the Apgar score, the first standardized tool to evaluate a newborn. An example of evidence-based medicine before the term existed, the Apgar score has been a gold standard to evaluate and guide the health of generations of newborn babies.

Dr. Audrey Evans is a pioneer in the study and treatment of childhood cancers, notably neuroblastoma, which inspired her to develop the Evans Staging System, and has contributed tirelessly to the care of children with cancer.

In 1990, Dr. Antonia Novello became the first woman and the first person of Hispanic origin to become the Surgeon General of the United States.

These are only some of the women who have pioneered the way in medicine.

Today, it is incredible how many female physicians there are in the US, around the world and in every medical specialty. As I researched and wrote this blog, I was reminded of how far we have come as a nation and I was so inspired by each of these women’s stories. No matter male or female, when we have strength, determination, and drive, anything is possible!


Thank you for reading this week’s Doc Lounge blog and stay tuned for next week’s article.


  • Summer Gilbert | Director of Marketing | Pacific Companies Inc.