If you’re interested in the history of medicine, you may be wondering which woman became the first female to earn a medical degree in South America. There are a few possibilities. In Chile, for instance, there was no other female medical student, so the new law allowed women to attend university, so one woman, Ana Galvis, became the first female doctor in South America.
Dr. Jane Elizabeth Waterston
Dr. Jane Elizabeth Waterston was born in 1843, the daughter of Charles Waterston and Agnes Webster. After being educated at private schools and the Inverness Royal Academy, Waterston decided to join the Free Church of Scotland. In 1866, she left Scotland and went to South Africa as a missionary. She later became the principal of the Girls’ Institution at Lovedale. In 1868, she attended the London School of Medicine for Women. She worked as a physician in Cape Town for the remainder of her life.
In 1879, Dr. Waterston graduated from the London School of Medicine. She spent the remainder of her life providing medical care to rural communities in South Africa. Another important figure in the history of South African medicine was Dr. Mary de Sousa, an Indian-Kenyan physician. She trained in Mumbai and moved to Africa with her husband. She was an influence on African doctors and was instrumental in the first African-born female doctor to practice medicine in South Africa.
Waterston’s achievements were remarkable. She worked amongst the poor in South Africa and founded the Ladies Branch of the Free Dispensary. She also trained midwives and cared for mothers. She also became part of a six-member committee in Bloemfontein that investigated conditions in concentration camps.
While women had traditionally stayed out of the medical profession, more women embraced it. In 1887, Dr. Eloisa Diaz became the first female in South America to earn a medical license and practice medicine for over 30 years. Other women began to study medicine in Africa, and in the 19th century, there were over 160 medical schools in the region.
Dr. Jane Elizabeth Waterston was the first woman to receive a medical degree in South America. She also became the first female to earn a Certificate in Psychological Medicine. Later in her career, she would become the first female MPA president.
Dr. Mary de Sousa
In the early nineteenth century, women were still a rarity in the medical profession in South America. The first woman to receive a medical degree in that region was Dr. Mary de Sousa. Born in Brazil, she graduated from the University of Rio de Janeiro in 1885. She worked as a school Medic Supervisor in Chile and became the first woman to graduate from a medical school in South America. During her medical training, de Sousa also had her daughter homeschooled and took classes in drama, pottery, painting, and woodworking.
De Sousa specialized in pediatric neurosurgery, specializing in spinal cord disease. When she was a child, she had difficulty walking, sitting up, and holding her bladder. The symptoms of her condition were not well-documented. Her parents, who lived in Canada, sought a second opinion from a neurosurgeon in New York. He examined her and concluded that Katerina had tethered cord, a condition that causes spinal curvature, pain in the back, and incontinence. He was willing to perform free surgery on her to correct her symptoms.
The case was investigated by Children’s Aid Society caseworkers who visited the de Sousa family in Ottawa in 2002. The agency was concerned that de Sousa was exposing her child to unnecessary medical interventions and treatments. De Sousa’s daughter, Katerina, was born with severe congenital defects.
Dr. Mary de Sousa became the first woman in South America to receive a medical degree. In the early eighteenth century, her father had been a doctor. She battled to gain admission to the University of Halle and eventually earned a medical degree. She also encouraged other women to become educated.
Dr. Ana Galvis
Ana Galvis was born in Bogota, Colombia on 22 June 1855. She was the daughter of a doctor from Colombia and a Swiss woman named Sophie Hotz. In 1872, she enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bern, Switzerland, where she was the first full-time student. She obtained her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Bern in 1875, after which she opened her own medical practice. She specialized in diseases affecting the uterus and surrounding organs. Today, she is recognized as Colombia’s first female gynecologist.
Dr. Ana Galvis was the first female to receive a medical degree in South America, and she’s the first Latin American woman to do so. In addition to becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree in South America, she is also the first woman to receive a medical degree in the Caribbean. Other notable women in the medical field include Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, the first African-American female dean of a U.S. medical school. And in Cambodia, Dr. Kek Galabru, who studied in France, became the country’s first female doctor. She was recruited to pursue a medical degree after the Secret War and later returned to her native country.
Women have contributed to the field of medicine for centuries, and Dr. Ana Galvis was the first woman to graduate from a medical school in South America. Her contributions to the medical field became more profound after graduation. In the United States and Canada, women were allowed to become doctors before they were allowed to vote. As these countries grew, women made great leaps in medicine.
After Ana Galvis, many other female doctors followed. Sophia Bambridge became the first doctor in American Samoa. Later, Frances Hoggan became the first female doctor in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In Sweden, Dr. Amalia Assur was one of the first female dentists. In Brazil, Dr. Ana Galvis was the first woman to obtain a medical degree. She also became the first woman to earn a degree in dentistry in Brazil.
The study of Hispanic women in medicine could continue in different ways. It would be important to include longer time periods for systematic reviews. Another avenue of research would be to examine dissertation catalogs to understand the medical education culture of Hispanic women. As a result, the subject area of Hispanic women in medicine has a large room for further research.
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