When she first started to study medicine, Elizabeth Blackwell had no idea how to go about becoming a doctor. She consulted with physicians who were known to her family and friends. They told her that it was not possible and that it was too expensive to go to medical school. Despite this, Blackwell was still drawn to the challenge. Eventually, she convinced two friends who were already practicing medicine to let her study medicine for a year. From there, she applied to all the medical schools in New York, as well as to twelve more in the northeast. Eventually, she was accepted to Geneva College in rural New York.
Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in a large family with many tutors. Her father was an abolitionist and advocate for church reform and women’s rights. When she was eleven years old, her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father died in 1838, leaving his family in financial crisis. She began teaching at home to support her family, but soon became determined to become a doctor.
After graduating from college, Blackwell sought to practice medicine in France and England. She was accepted to the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874-5, and was appointed professor of gynecology there until her death in 1910. During this time, she suffered a severe fall and was unable to practice medicine in a professional capacity. She died two years later of a paralytic stroke.
After her graduation, Blackwell volunteered in the U.S. and started her own dispensary in a slum district. She also organized nurses during the American Civil War. As a child, Blackwell moved with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father died when she was seventeen.
While in Europe, Blackwell continued her campaign for women in medicine. She co-founded the National Health Society and also became involved in social reform movements. She also helped to establish two Utopian communities in the 1880s.
Susan La Flesche Picotte
In 1879, a fourteen-year-old Native American girl named Susan La Flesche Picotte left her reservation for school in New Jersey. At the time, the United States was a hostile place for Native Americans and women were discouraged from pursuing higher education. After a year of studying at an agency school, she was awarded a scholarship to Hampton Institute in Virginia. She graduated in 1886. She was the first Indian woman in the United States to receive a medical degree.
Her biography is written by Joe Starita, who also wrote a book about her husband Joseph La Flesche. It is titled A Warrior of the People and tells her inspiring life story. She was passionate about serving her community and the people of Nebraska.
A native American, Picotte was a strong advocate of temperance and hygiene in her community and was active in social reform. She also practiced medicine on the reservation and helped other Omaha Indians navigate the Office of Indian Affairs. The Omaha Indian society largely relied on women for their healing abilities. However, women were rare in medical schools during the Victorian era. Only a few medical schools at the time accepted Native American women, and even then, the acceptance rate was extremely low.
In addition to her academic achievements, Susan La Flesche Picotte had many other contributions. She became active in the Temperance Movement after her husband’s death, and even led a delegation to the nation’s capital to lobby for the prohibition of alcohol on Indian land. She was also an advocate of the Peyote Religion, which aimed to bring the substance peyote into Native American spiritual practices.
While living on the Omaha Reservation, Susan La Flesche Picotte married Henry Picotte, a member of the Sioux tribe, and the couple had two sons: Caryl and Pierre. While practicing medicine, she accompanied her children on hospital visits to help with their care.
Although Picotte’s dream was to become a physician, she faced obstacles along the way. Initially, she hoped to provide care for Native Americans on the Omaha Reservation. After gaining admission at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, she excelled in her studies. She graduated in 1889.
Gerty Cori was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and enrolled in a medical school at age 18. She married Carl Cori after graduating, and they emigrated to the U.S. where she became a professor in biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Together, they worked on studies of blood glucose, insulin production, and hormones. Cori faced many obstacles during her academic career, and eventually was hired by Washington University to head the department.
Gerty Cori’s research on glycogen metabolism and the Cori Cycle led to the development of insulin, a drug that is used to treat diabetes. She and Carl Cori won the 1947 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for this discovery. Her accomplishments in science include discovering the enzymatic degradation of glucose and glycogen, and identifying enzymatic defects in glycogen storage diseases.
Gerty Cori worksheets include 28 pages that go in-depth about the biochemist’s accomplishments. The worksheets provide an interactive way for students to learn about Cori and her contributions to science. Educators can use these resources to teach students about the biochemist. In addition, students can use them to learn about Gerty’s life and career.
Gerty Cori was a highly intelligent and ambitious person. She wrote her university entrance exam at Tetschen Real Gymnasium in 1914. She subsequently moved to Vienna, Austria, where she studied temperature regulation using hormones. However, her work in Europe was hindered by her lack of education and vitamin A.
In 1999, New York Governor George Pataki nominated Janice Novello to serve as state health commissioner, the nation’s largest public health agency. During her tenure, she faced controversy when staffers accused her of abuse of power. The allegations centered on using state employees to run her errands and serve as her chauffeur. In 2006, she was removed from her position following a criminal investigation. The charges against her included misusing public funds and using state employees to do her personal errands. Eventually, she agreed to do community service at a health clinic in Albany and pay fines.
Novello studied in the U.S. and earned a medical degree. She went on to become a special representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund, where she focused on providing health care for children and women. In addition, she advised on health services for low-income communities. She also worked as a commissioner for the State of New York, then as the executive director of the Florida Hospital for Women and Children in Orlando. While there, she spoke out on pressing public health issues. She spearheaded a public awareness campaign on smoking and published a report on AIDS among women.
Antonia Coello was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on August 23, 1944. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Pedras and her medical degree at the University of Michigan Medical Center. After completing her medical degree, she married Joseph R. Novello, a physician. She later completed an internship at the University of Michigan Medical Center and a fellowship in pediatric nephrology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC.
Antonia’s mother was a high school teacher and principal. While she was still in high school, she suffered from a medical condition that required surgery. Her family could not afford the cost of the surgery, so she underwent interim treatment in the local hospital. Later, at age 18 she had a second surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which corrected her condition. Despite her personal struggles, Antonia’s determination to make a difference in people’s lives motivated her to pursue a medical degree.
Later, Novello became involved with public health legislation and policy. She used her position to advocate for better health care for the Latino community. She also sought to promote a tobacco prevention campaign and improved AIDS education.
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