What It Means To Be The First In The Field Of Medicine

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Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler grew up marveling at the transformative powers of medicine.

But changing the perception of what a Black woman could do in healthcare would not come easily.

Doctors who took Crumpler - then a young nurse - under their wings beamed at her abilities.

Several recommended she be admitted to the New England Female Medical College in Massachusetts, where she continued to train.

For years she proved wrong the many male physicians who believed that women lacked the mental and physical strength to practice.

Dr. Crumpler completed her studies, earning the first Doctorate of Medicine awarded to a Black woman, in 1864! Her career took off from there.

When the Civil War ended, Dr. Crumpler moved to Virginia to partner with the Freedmen’s Bureau to administer health care to newly-freed Black people.

Despite enduring racist and sexist treatment from other medical professionals, she kept her focus trained on the wellness of those entrusted to her care.

In line with her mission to help “all who may desire to mitigate the afflictions of the human race,” she published “A Book of Medical Discourses In Two Parts” in 1883.

Both volumes display her desire to help treat the ailments that commonly afflicted women and children and a breadth of knowledge inspired by years of practicing compassion for her people.

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