Celebrating National Women Physicians Day

In 1849, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Today on her birthday, we celebrate National Women Physicians Day in honor of Dr. Blackwell, who pioneered a movement that helped women gain entry and equality in the field of medicine.

Call9 is proud to have 19 female physicians as part of our medical team, comprising 68% of our clinical staff. They are incredibly talented, compassionate, courageous physicians who are part the generations of women doctors that have followed in Dr. Blackwell’s footsteps to advance and improve the field of medicine. We are grateful for the many ways they care for our patients every day.

In honor of National Women Physicians Day, two of our Call9 physicians share about the women in medicine that have had the greatest influence on them.

 
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell pioneered a movement that helped women gain entry and equality in the field of medicine.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell pioneered a movement that helped women gain entry and equality in the field of medicine.

 

Jill Griffin, MD

The most influential female physician in my life was Anna Perkins, MD. Anna was born in Newport, RI, to a wealthy family. Her undergraduate years were spent at Radcliffe, and she attended medical school at Columbia. She completed her internship Bellevue in Manhattan and then, in 1928, she moved to Westerlo, NY — a rural farm town where she opened a solo medical practice and worked until her retirement at age 92. She died a year later in 1993.

Dr. Perkins was my father’s physician, and she became my mentor during my premedical years, taking me with her on house calls and allowing me to sit in on the medical appointments she held at her home on Main Street. She charged $5 for an office visit but was also known to barter or to write off the bills for those who could not afford to pay.

Dr. Perkins was of the mindset that sick patients should not have to come to her office; she would go to them. One of the iconic tales regarding her heroics involved making a house call in the midst of a snowstorm by hitching a ride with the plow driver and, when it became stuck, strapping on snowshoes to complete the journey.

Dr. Perkins taught me that becoming a physician was an honor not to to be taken for granted; that patients should be respected, and that I should only study medicine if I truly felt it was a calling that I could do for the rest of my life. She also instilled in me the belief that if I really wanted it, and buckled down, that I’d be able to do what no one else in my family had had the opportunity to do — attend college. I am profoundly thankful that I had the opportunity to spend time with this amazing woman physician pioneer.

Claritza Rios, MD

The female physicians that influenced me the most are: Danielle Mailloux, Elzbieta Pilat, Lekha Shah, Shoma Desai, Charlotte Reich, Holly Thompson, Amanda Smith, Tanisha Medlock, Mamie Caton, Jerrica Chen, Jamarcy McDaniel, Shelly Jones, Yanick Issac and Jamie O’Connor. They were members of my class and two classes above me in residency. These were a group of women who could not be more different but all shared a passion for service to vulnerable populations. We all entered a world that was not always easy to navigate for a woman physician; without them, residency wouldn’t have been quite as rich.

Emergency Medicine, while progressive in those days, was still not as diverse as it is today. Each one of these women had their own style; they thrived and exceeded expectations, as many of us women need to do to be included. For me the wisdom came watching them do it all with seamless grace. One would almost not know that they often faced more criticism, sexism and just plain ignorance. Managing microaggressions and full-on aggressions were added to the endless tasks of a shift. From being told after treating a patient, “So when will I see the doctor?” to “getting feedback” for showing appropriate emotion after a code, to having too few mentors (those we had were amazing) to help us navigate career planning and life — these women navigated residency inspirationally while also being top residents who got the job done and then some!

They have all moved on to do amazing work that continues to honor their commitment to service and influence the careers of many other women who came after them. While I do not keep in touch with all of them, I thank them for being unknowing mentors that helped shape my practice today.

Ashley Langan