Author: Sara Habibipour
Hey everyone! Happy February 1 and the official start of Black History Month!
In honor of Black History Month, let's talk about Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman to become a physician in the United States.
A bright girl, Rebecca attended a prestigious private school in Massachusetts, later becoming a nurse. In 1860, she took the bold step of applying to medical school and was accepted into the New England Female Medical College. At the time, many male physicians derided the institution, complaining that women lacked the physical strength to practice medicine and that many of the topics taught were inappropriate for their “sensitive and delicate nature," (of course, relating to the culture and societal norms of that time period in the United States).
In 1864, Rebecca became the New England Female Medical College’s only African-American graduate, paving the way for the future of African-American females in medicine. In 1860, there were only 300 women out of 54,543 physicians in the United States and none of them were African-American. Some historians have wondered if Rebecca even knew of her status as “the first” given that for many decades in the 20th century that credit was awarded to Dr. Rebecca Cole, an African-American woman who received her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867.
Let us applaud her courage, perseverance, and pioneering achievements, especially as we enter Black History Month. She is definitely an inspiration to many.
Stock Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rebecca-Lee-Crumpler.jpg