Women in Science
Women in Science
march is women's history month

Women’s History Month Female Doctors in History

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD (1821-1910)

First US Female Physician
Dr. Blackwell was the first woman in the U.S. to earn an MD degree. Blackwell focused on becoming a doctor after a deathly ill friend insisted she would have received better care if a "lady doctor" had cared for her. This friend encouraged Elizabeth to become a physician [1]. 

Elizabeth was told repeatedly that it would be impossible for her to become a physician. More than a dozen medical schools rejected her. Some suggested she disguise herself as a man to gain admission, but she refused. The discouragement only made her more determined to succeed. "The idea of winning a doctor's degree gradually assumed the aspect of a great moral struggle, and the moral fight possessed immense attraction for me," she wrote [2].
Using money she saved from teaching, Blackwell attended Geneva Medical College in New York, where the male students agreed to admit her on a lark. Still, she graduated with a medical degree in 1849 with great public interest and approval. While Blackwell possessed a medical degree, further medical training was unavailable in the U.S., so she studied in England and France.
Returning to the U.S. to practice medicine, Dr. Blackwell co-founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children (now New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital)[2]. She also created the Woman's Medical College of the New York Infirmary to support and encourage women hoping to pursue medical careers. Dr. Blackwell was a lifelong advocate for female scientists and physicians.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD (1831-95) African American Pioneer

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman in the U.S. to earn an MD degree. Dr. Crumpler entered the New England Female Medical College in Boston. 
In 1864, at 33, Crumpler received a “Doctress of Medicine.”  She remains the only Black woman to receive a medical degree from the school since, in 1874, it merged with Boston University Medical School [1]. It was also unique in allowing Crumpler to attend, as most medical schools barred all Black people—both men and women—from attending. When Dr. Crumpler received her degree, there were 54,543 physicians in the US; 270 were all white women, and 180 were Black men [4].

Dr. Crumpler began practicing medicine in Boston but received her degree just as the Civil War ended and moved to Richmond, Virginia, to care for formerly enslaved people. She suffered rampant racism and sexism. But when she returned home to Boston, she served her patients with “renewed vigor” [1]. Moving to Beacon Hill, she treated her patients regardless of their ability to pay and despite her troubles getting prescriptions filled by pharmacists and having no admitting privileges to local hospitals because of her race [4]. 
In 1883, Dr. Crumpler published  "A Book of Medical Discourses" based on practice journal notes, believed to be the first medical text written by a Black author. The book covered maternal and child health, pregnancy, nursing, and teething topics. Scientific American magazine describes it as the forerunner to "What to Expect When You’re Expecting (1984)."

Today only 2% of practicing physicians identify as Black women.

Gerty Theresa Cori, Ph.D. (1896-1957) Winning a Nobel Prize 

In 1947 Dr. Gerty Theresa Cori was the first woman in the U.S. and the third woman worldwide to win a scientific Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine [1]. Besides her award, her lab produced six Nobel Prize winners [5].
Dr. Cori received her doctorate from the German University of Prague in 1920. Due to rising anti-Semitism in Europe, she emigrated to the U.S. and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1928.
Dr. Cori and her husband, Carl, worked as equals, yet they were rarely treated that way. In 1922 they began conducting biomedical research, and Gerty was warned she’d ruin her husband’s career if they collaborated. The Coris were pioneers in studying enzymes and hormones. Their Nobel Prize-winning work was for identifying the Cori cycle, explaining how glucose is metabolized — a critical insight for treating diabetes and metabolic diseases.
Dr. Cori's achievements are remarkable, given that she was marginalized for over half of her career in non-tenure track research positions and substandard salaries. Despite rampant gender discrimination and nepotism rules, she never stopped pursuing her interest in medical research [5].
In 1947, Dr. Cori achieved the rank of full professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Washington University School in St. Louis. Cori was the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the election to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1952, President Truman named her to the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation [5]. Dr. Cori was an inspirational role model who paved the way for many future women in science.

Susan LaFlesche Picotte, MD (1865-1915) Healing Native Americans

As a child, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte saw a Native American woman die because a white doctor would not give her care. Dr. La Flesche Picotte later credited this tragedy as her inspiration to train as a physician to provide care for the people she lived with on the Omaha Reservation [1].
Dr. La Flesche Picotte, the daughter of an Omaha chief ("Iron Eyes"), graduated top of her class from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889. She was the first to receive federal aid for professional education and the first American Indian woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree [6].
In her remarkable career, Dr. La Flesche Picotte served more than 1,300 people over 450 square miles, often walking miles and working long into the night. She also pursued political reforms, and in 1906 she led a delegation to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the prohibition of alcohol on the reservation. In 1913, two years before her death, she saw her life's dream fulfilled when she opened a hospital in the reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska. 

1) https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/celebrating-10-women-medical-pioneers
2) https://www.nps.gov/people/dr-elizabeth-blackwell.htm
3) https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/dr-rebecca-lee-crumpler
4) https://triagestaff.com/blog/bhm-rebecca-lee-crumpler-md/ 
5) http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/women/cori.htm 
6) https://cfmedicine.nlm.nih.gov/physicians/biography_253.html

2023 Washington State Legislature Session Summary

Week 8. KCMS Has a Whole Lot Going On.

Prior Authorization. HB 1357 passed the House unanimously. It relates to reducing prior authorization ‘hurdles.’ The genesis of this bill originated with KCMS Delegate and former KCMS president Dr. Teresa Girolami. The current bill has striking amendments, which make several changes:
1) Requires an implementation plan to be submitted when a health carrier, health plan, or managed care organization requests an extension for implementing its prior authorization application programming interface.
2) Removes the requirement that the electronic prior authorization process is standardized for the prior authorization timelines to apply.
3) Restores law related to Rx. Drug utilization management requirements and the changes to Rx. Drug standards apply to prior authorization timelines, not exception requests.
4) Adds retirees to the prior authorization provisions related to public employees. Changes reference "carriers" to "health plans" in prior authorization pertaining to public employees.
Reproductive Rights. The following bills all passed.
HB 1469 prohibits WA judges from issuing out-of-state subpoenas seeking information on abortion and reproductive health care services. Prohibits out-of-state criminal investigations from seeking evidence related to abortion and reproductive health care services. 
HB 1469, also known as the 'Shield Law,' protects patients and healthcare professionals who provide reproductive and gender-affirming care in WA from retribution by other states. 
HB 1340 ensures that WA healthcare professionals cannot be disciplined in WA state because they provide reproductive or gender-affirming care in accordance with WA state law, regardless of where their patients reside. 
SB 5242 prohibits out-of-pocket costs for abortion.
Firearm Legislation. SB 5078 passed and requires the firearm industry members to establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls regarding; the manufacture, sale, use, distribution, import, and marketing of firearm and firearm-related products. It also prohibits firearm industry members from creating or maintaining a public nuisance and authorizes the attorney general to investigate suspected violations of firearm industry members' duties and to enforce actions against such firearm industry members.
Additional Legislation that passed.
HB 1155 would establish more substantial privacy rights and protections regarding consumer health data by prohibiting data selling without valid authorization.
Legislation KCMS is still watching and supporting:
HB 1035 Prohibits healthcare entities from limiting healthcare professionals from conducting certain activities, including 
1) Providing patients with medically accurate healthcare information, information about the Death with Dignity Act, or referrals.
2) Prohibits healthcare entities from restricting a healthcare professional's ability to provide healthcare services when not providing the services would pose a risk to the patient's life. 
3) Prohibits employing healthcare organizations from contractually restricting an employee healthcare professional from participating in the Death with Dignity Act while outside of the scope of employment and not on the employing healthcare organization's premises.

HB 1745 Improving Diversity in Clinical Trials. While it’s still awaiting a vote in the House, it would
1) Require the UW, WSU, and any hospital or state agency that receives NIH funding for drug and medical device clinical trials to offer information in a language other than English to provide culturally specific recruitment materials and electronic consent when available.
2) Require the Review Board and the Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment to consider four factors related to increasing the participation of underrepresented communities in clinical trials of drugs and medical devices. 

Doctors Aren’t Burned Out From Overwork.

We’re Demoralized by Our Health System.

Opinion Guest Essay | New York Times | Feb 5, 2023
By: Eric Reinhart
Dr. Reinhart is a political anthropologist and physician at Northwestern University.
Doctors have long diagnosed many of our sickest patients with “demoralization syndrome,” a condition commonly associated with terminal illness that’s characterized by a sense of helplessness and loss of purpose. American physicians are now increasingly suffering from a similar condition, except our demoralization is not a reaction to a medical condition, but rather to the diseased systems for which we work.

The United States is the only large high-income nation that doesn’t provide universal health care‌ to its citizens. Instead, it maintains a lucrative system of for-profit medicine. For decades, ‌at least tens of thousands of preventable deaths have occurred each year because health care here is so expensive.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the consequences of this policy choice have intensified. One study estimates at least 338,000 Covid deaths in the United States could have been prevented by universal health care. In the wake of this generational catastrophe, many healthcare workers have been left shaken.

“For me, doctoring in a broken place required a sustaining belief that the place would become less broken as a result of my efforts,” wrote Dr. Rachael Bedard about her decision to quit her job at New York City’s Rikers Island prison complex during the pandemic. “I couldn’t sustain that belief any longer.”‌



Jackelin Tran, DO

Dr. Tran is a Vietnamese-American born in Vietnam and immigrated to the US at seven. Growing up in Seattle, WA, she was exposed to the diverse culture and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She pursued her education at the UW, where she obtained her undergraduate degree before continuing to complete a master’s degree in Exposure Sciences. This educational background equipped her with a deep understanding of environmental and occupational exposures and safety risks and effects on human health.
Dr. Tran's passion for medicine and desire to help people led her to attend medical school at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington. She completed her family medicine residency training in Spokane, WA, at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where she gained extensive clinical experience in treating various health conditions. 

Following residency, Dr. Tran joined The Everett Clinic and has worked as a family medicine physician since 2018. She transitioned to a leadership role in 2022 as Medical Director of Population Health Education and Provider Efficiency. 
Dr. Tran is attending the WSU MBA program to help her gain a deep understanding of business fundamentals that will enable her to become a more effective leader and help take her career to the next level. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching residents as a community preceptor at the WSU internal medicine program in Everett, WA. Dr. Tran is an avid skier who loves to garden and cook delicious meals for her family. 

Robin Von Davies

Robin is a first-year medical student at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Robin has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and Administrative Management from Central Washington University, a Master’s in Medical Science from Heritage University, and a Master’s in Reproductive Clinical Sciences from Eastern Virginia Medical School. She is from Shoreline, WA. 

Intensely interested in Obstetrics, Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology, and Infertility,  Robin believes in a more equitable medical system that better serves the people of WA State. She thinks it is our duty and responsibility to advocate for the medically underserved and those most in need of care. As a member of the Governing Council on the Medical Student Section of WSMA, Robin hopes to aid in mobilizing medical students to advocate for policies they are passionate about. 

She enjoys spending time with her grade school-aged daughters when she is not busy studying.

In Memoriam

Dr. Leonard Cobb, 
co-founder Washington's first Medic One 

dies at 96

Seattle Times Obituary  February 24, 2023
It’s difficult to pinpoint how Dr. Leonard Cobb came up with the idea to train firefighters in emergency medical care, but friends and family believe one particular afternoon more than 60 years ago played a role.

Cobb and his wife, Else, had stopped at a market in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood for a frozen snack when they noticed a man slumped over in a nearby car. When Cobb opened the car door to check on him, the man sagged to the ground.

Cobb stayed with the man while his wife rushed to a nearby fire station for help. A firefighter hurried over to bring oxygen, but there wasn’t much else he could do until the man was taken to the hospital, Else Cobb, 88, remembers.

“It was an incident where Leonard felt the fireman could have done more if he had known what to do,” his wife said this week.

In the following decades, Cobb devoted his career to researching cardiac care and developing Medic One, one of the country’s first efforts to deliver emergency medical care to patients before they arrived at the hospital. He was 96 when he died in his home at the Terraces of Skyline last week, surrounded by family. 
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