Throughout history, many women have made significant contributions to medicine. In South America, the first woman to earn a medical degree was Dr Andrea Evangelina Rodriguez Perozo. Other notable women in the field include Dr Jane Elizabeth Waterston, Dr Marilyn Hughes Gaston, Dr Dorothea Erxleben, and Dr LaSalle D. Leffall.
Dr LaSalle D. Leffall
Among the many achievements of Dr. Leffall, was his leadership in the field of cancer research and prevention. He has been an advocate for preventive measures to reduce cancer rates and for improving access to medical care for disadvantaged populations. He also served as president of the American College of Surgeons and the Society of Surgical Oncology, and as chairman of the President’s Cancer Panel.
He became the first African American male to serve as a president of the American Cancer Society. He was named the 2019 ACS Icon in Surgery. In his autobiography, No Boundaries: A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey, he details his career as a surgeon and his work on cancer research.
In addition to being a medical researcher, he was a teacher and a civic leader. He was instrumental in changing the public’s perception of cancer. He was an advocate for breast cancer research and helped develop programs for the African American population. He has served as a visiting professor at more than 200 medical institutions worldwide. He is the author of more than 150 articles and has been awarded over 14 honorary degrees from universities throughout the United States. He is a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Surgery, and a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery. He is also a member of the National Advisory General Medical Services Council, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.
Dr Marilyn Hughes Gaston
Despite growing up in a family of poverty, Dr Marilyn Hughes Gaston was determined to become a physician. Her family provided her with the resources and education she needed to make her dream a reality.
After completing her medical training, Dr. Gaston spent many years working in a variety of settings. During her time as a physician, she worked to improve the health care services of poor families and those in underserved communities. She focused on disease prevention and improving health care services for women and children.
In the early 1970’s, Dr. Gaston began working at a health center in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. This center was established by the government to provide health care to a large number of disadvantaged families.
She was interested in sickle cell disease, a blood disorder that causes chronic anemia and weakens the body. The disease causes death and is found almost exclusively in children of African descent.
After earning her medical degree from Miami University, Dr. Gaston completed an internship at the Philadelphia General Hospital. She then went on to graduate from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
After completing her internship, Dr. Gaston became a specialist in sickle cell disease. She also earned federal grants for studies on the disease with the National Institutes of Health. She continued her research on sickle cell disease, and in 1999, she published a study on sickle cell anemia.
Dr Andrea Evangelina Rodriguez Perozo
During the 18th and 19th centuries, men dominated the medical world in South America. However, women made great strides in the field during this time. The first female medical license was awarded to Eloisa Diaz in 1887. Maria Elisa Rivera Diaz also became the first Puerto Rican woman to receive a medical degree.
The Dominican Republic honored Evangelina Rodriguez with a stamp on September 26, 1985. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree from a Dominican school. She also founded several institutions in the Dominican Republic. Her contributions were especially in the field of gynecology and obstetrics. She also advocated for pre-natal OB/GYN care and sex education.
During her time in the Dominican Republic, Evangelina Rodriguez was a feminist and advocated for women’s rights and social reforms. Her work included the creation of a support center for mothers in need. She also organized vaccination clinics in the Dominican Republic. She also contributed to the feminist journal Femina.
After she became a doctor, Rodriguez dedicated her time to helping poor communities. She also advocated for birth control, sex education, and venereal disease prevention. She was also an outspoken opponent of the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.
She was born into a poor family in the countryside. Her father worked as a sugar cane worker. As a child, she lived with her paternal grandmother. Her grandmother provided her emotional and physical support. She also helped her pursue her studies. She earned the highest marks in her course.
Dr Jane Elizabeth Waterston
Among the first women to receive a medical degree in southern Africa was Dr Jane Elizabeth Waterston. She was born in 1843 and was educated at Inverness Royal Academy. She later attended the University of Cape Town where she received a medical license. She worked as a medical doctor in Cape Town until her death in 1932.
She was inspired by the work of David Livingstone, who had also worked as a missionary in Africa. Her goals were to become a doctor and provide medical care for the poor in South Africa. Waterston was given a position as the superintendent of the Girls’ Institution at Lovedale in 1868. She was later appointed the principal of the institution.
In 1867, Waterston arrived in South Africa and started working at the Lovedale Missionary Institute. She was later given the job of the first superintendent of the new girl’s section. She became the first woman to receive a medical license in southern Africa.
Waterston later left her position at the mission and worked as a physician in private practice in Cape Town. She also helped to establish the Ladies Branch of the Free Dispensary. The organisation trained midwives.
Waterston was part of a six-member committee in Bloemfontein that investigated the conditions of concentration camps. She also travelled to Livingstonia in Nysaland and practised medicine there. Her career spanned more than thirty years and her work was significant in the development of medical care for the poor.
Dr Dorothea Erxleben
During the Eighteenth Century, women played a vital role in the family as healers. But professional medicine was seen as the preserve of university-educated men. The Enlightenment paved the way for women to pursue higher education, but many women were still excluded from medical schools.
Dorothea Erxleben was a German physician who became the first woman to receive a medical degree in Europe. She was also the first woman to practice medicine in South America. Her dissertation paved the way for women in medical fields. She argued that medical practice should rely on experienced practitioners and moderate cures. She also argued against medical fads.
Her dissertation was entitled Dissertatio inauguralis. It was presented in Latin. It also included tributes from supporters. The dissertation was translated into German the following year. It discussed the proper dosage of opiates and purgatives. It also suggested the best methods for menstrual management and urination. It also discussed how “pleasant” tasting medicines were harmful to patients.
Dorothea’s father encouraged his daughter to study medicine. He believed that her daughter deserved the best education. He also taught her medical arts at home. He also encouraged her to study Latin. She was a very bright student. She had a deep interest in science and medicine.
Dorothea Erxleben married Johann Christian Erxleben in 1742. They had four children. Her father died in 1747. It was in 1747 that Dorothea took over the family practice. She practiced medicine for eight years.
During her lifetime, Florence Sabin made a number of important contributions to the advancement of American medicine. Sabin was the first woman to receive a medical degree in South America and the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Smith College. She also made important contributions to the public health of Colorado.
Florence Sabin was born in Central City, Colorado, in 1871. She was the youngest of four children. Her parents were mining engineers. After her mother died from puerperal fever, she was raised by her paternal grandparents. Florence Sabin attended Vermont Academy and later Smith College in Massachusetts. She graduated with the highest grades in biology, chemistry, and geology.
After graduating from Smith College, Sabin attended Johns Hopkins University Medical School. She was one of the first two women to intern at Johns Hopkins. During her time at the hospital, Sabin studied embryology and histology. Her research focused on the lymphatic system. She was appointed a postgraduate fellowship in anatomy under Franklin P. Mall.
In 1917, Sabin became a full-time professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She was also the first woman to receive a doctorate in science from Johns Hopkins. Her research focused on the lymphatic system, blood cells, and pathology of tuberculosis. Her book, “Atlas of the Medulla and Midbrain,” became a popular textbook.
In 1929, Sabin won an annual award from Pictorial Review. She was also awarded a National Achievement Award from Chi Omega Sorority.
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