Sunday, January 23, 2011

First woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2011 -- Profile America -- The nation's first woman doctor received her M.D. on this date in 1849 -- as the result of a joke. Elizabeth Blackwell had applied to many medical schools but was rejected because of her gender.

The faculty at Geneva Medical College in New York decided to let the students vote on her application, sure it wouldn't go through. But as a gag, the students voted "yes."

Following her graduation, Dr. Blackwell moved to New York City but found it hard to get a job at established hospitals and clinics. Dr. Blackwell opened her own dispensary in 1854, which three years later had grown to become the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Later, the institution opened its own medical college for women. The New York Downtown Hospital as it is now known is the only hospital in downtown Manhattan.

Today, there are 877,000 doctors in the U.S. -- nearly one-third of them women.

In 2007 for the first time in history - female veterinarians outnumber men, according to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).

You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at

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