For years, women have been making medical history using their knowledge, empowerment and advocacy. Their medical and technological contributions have impacted the world we live in today, creating a more substantive field of public health.
Out of numerous powerful women, here are five women in medical history you should know:
Florence Nightingale is known for her work in hospitals as a nurse, creating hospital guidelines for maintaining sanitary conditions. According to the American Journal of Public Health, when caring for British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War, Nightingale noticed diet, dirt, and drain were the main issues found in soldier deaths. Her efforts to clean up hospital wards brought national attention to the public health field, creating the guidelines hospitals have today.
During the Civil War, Clara Barton began providing relief to soldiers by supplying food and supplies. Even after the Civil War, Barton continued her efforts by establishing the Office of Correspondence with the Friends of Missing Men of the U.S. Army in order to locate and identify missing soldiers. Barton’s dedication and compassion to helping others led her to founding the American Red Cross, a disaster relief organization. According to the National Park Service, under Barton’s leadership their work became so successful that the International Red Cross shifted their efforts from focusing on war relief to including peacetime and disaster assistance.
As a chemist in nuclear physics, Marie Curie is famous for her work on radioactivity. Curie and her husband’s efforts led to the discovery of radioactive elements polonium and radium. According to the National Library of Medicine, Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, one in physics and the other in chemistry.
Rosalyn Sussman Yalow
According to the American Chemical Society, Rosalyn S. Yalow became the second woman to win a Nobel Prize in medicine for co-developing radio-immunoassay (RIA). This technique uses radioactive isotopes to measure concentrations of hormones, vitamins, viruses, enzymes, drugs, and hundreds of other substances. This aided in diagnosing, treating and testing diseases and conditions, changing the lives of many people.
In 1993, Evelyn Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, an organization that devotes research to finding a cure to breast cancer. Lauder’s experience with breast cancer led her to establish what is now called the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation credits Evelyn Lauder as the creator of the signature pink ribbon, a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Her life-long efforts spread awareness of the importance of breast health.
Help us honor March as Women’s History Month by sharing some of the women in medical history and technology that you admire in a comment below.