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5 Change-Making Women in Healthcare History

March 1, 2023

Throughout history, women have played a crucial role in advancing healthcare. From fighting for better conditions for the sick to making groundbreaking discoveries, their contributions have paved the way for modern medicine. In honor of Women’s History Month, take a moment to get to know five women who helped make the healthcare industry into what it is today!


Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Known as the “Lady with the Lamp,” Florence Nightingale is one of the most well-known figures in healthcare history. During the Crimean War, she worked tirelessly to improve sanitation and care for wounded soldiers. She also founded the first professional school for nurses, which helped to establish nursing as a respected profession.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. She went on to co-found the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which provided medical care to women and trained female physicians.

Elizabeth Blackwell
Rebecca Lee Crumpler.webp

Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895)

In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first Black American woman to earn a medical degree. She worked in hospitals in the South during the Civil War and later opened her own medical practice, where she provided care to women and children.

Virginia Apgar (1909-1974)

Virginia Apgar was a pioneer in the field of neonatology, which focuses on the medical care of newborn infants. She created the Apgar Score, a system for quickly assessing the health of newborns, which is still used today!

Virginia Apgar
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Franklin was a chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made significant contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. Her work laid the foundation for the field of molecular biology and has helped to advance our understanding of genetics and disease.

These five trailblazing women are an inspiration to all healthcare professionals. Their dedication and groundbreaking discoveries have transformed countless lives and will continue to impact generations to come. Let their legacies motivate us to push the boundaries for what women can accomplish in healthcare and beyond. Happy Women’s History Month! EDIT: It has been brought to our attention that the image we originally used to represent Rebecca Lee Crumpler is actually an image of Mary Mahoney.

Upon researching Dr. Crumpler, we obtained the image from a credible source, but after looking into this further, we found that images of Mary Mahoey have been used to represent Dr. Crumpler for generations.

This is one of many instances wherein black people are misrepresented in American history, and we take full accountability for contributing to that.

Both Dr. Crumpler and Mary Mahoney have left behind incredible legacies for women in medicine, and they both deserve distinctive recognition for that.


In 1879, Mahoney was the first Black American to graduate from an American school of nursing. She also co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) to pursue nursing educational opportunities and jobs for black women in the US. Her contribution has greatly impacted the healthcare industry today. During Women’s History Month, we celebrate her and all other women that helped shape our country throughout history.


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