Feb. 3 is National Women Physicians Day and the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female medical doctor in the United States. This day is an opportunity to honor women physicians and celebrate their impact and accomplishments in medicine.
“Until 1849, the United States had no women physicians,” Rush University Medical Center CEO Dr. Omar Lateef says. “Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first to break through that ceiling. Today, on National Women Physicians Day, we celebrate her birthday and the countless female physicians that have changed the face of medicine – many of them right here at RUSH.”
We asked RUSH physicians to reflect on what the recognition day means to them.
Sarah Adelstein, MD, Urology
"I'm so proud and fortunate to have had female surgeon mentors who are chairs of their departments and national leaders in urology. It was so impactful and normalizing. Happy National Women Physicians Day!"
Adriana Bermeo-Ovalle, MD, Neurology
"I am a proud Latina woman, a mother, an immigrant, a woman of color. Bringing all these dimensions to what I do every day makes me a better teacher to my students, physician to my patients and mentor to other women working hard to bring forth the multiple dimensions of their authentic self."
Cynthia Boyd, MD, chief compliance officer
"While women physicians continue to make significant strides in our medical schools, teaching hospitals and universities, they represent only one third of the physician workforce. Gender equity and inclusion are imperative to further diversify the physician workforce, help eliminate inequities in health care, and to provide women physicians the opportunity to reach their full potential in medicine and science."
Cynthia Brincat, MD, PhD, interim dean of Rush Medical College
"Today is a day for all of us to reflect on the individual journeys that brought us to where we are, those that made it happen and those that were left behind. We are here for our patients and one another, to listen to them and speak for those without a voice. It’s a good day for women physicians and for all of us."
Sheila Dugan, MD, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
"Today, we need to celebrate women physicians for their incredible capacity as health care workers and as stewards of resiliency and inclusion at RUSH. We need not apologize for any perceived shortcomings in doing our professional and family work, as we are complete in our commitment to making RUSH and our community a healthier and more nurturing place for all."
Inna Husain, MD, Otolaryngology
"As a second generation woman in medicine, this awareness day has special significance for me. It recognizes all the women who paved the path before me, but it also highlights and brings to attention all the struggles women in medicine currently face."
Jennifer Kurka, DO, Family Medicine
"National Women Physicians Day recognizes women who in this day of increasing equality, still struggle to be equal. We work hard in our careers, as wives, as mothers, and it's nice to be appreciated. I feel very fortunate at RUSH to never have felt discriminated against because I am a female physician. I am proud to be a part of RUSH."
Tochi Okwuosa, DO, Cardio-Oncology
"High rates of maternal mortality after childbirth have robbed many children of their caring mothers, disproportionately affected under-represented minority (especially Black) women, and have come to the limelight because of efforts made by women physicians. Without women physicians, cardiovascular diseases in women (which are now recognized as distinct disease entities sometimes different from what we see in men) would still be 'psychological.'"
Claudia Perez, DO, Surgical Oncology
"Over the span of my career, I am so inspired to see the number of women in medicine increasing and the diversity of these women expanding. We bring a very unique and different perspective to patient care, one that is important to see represented. Thank you to all of the women physicians for the dedication to our field and for the sacrifices you have made."
Kerstin Stenson, MD, Otorhinolaryngology
"I have profound gratitude for the strength of women in medicine. Always remember the words of A.A. Milne: 'You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.'"
Tisha Suboc, MD, Cardiology
"Medicine is a field with ongoing advancements and innovation. As the contributions of women physicians continue to advance medicine, it's truly an honor to care for patients as a female cardiologist. I look forward to witnessing more milestones and leadership from women in medicine."
Amanda Wu, MD, Pulmonology
"Happy National Women Physicians Day! We've come a long way from when the first female physician was admitted to medical school to women now making up more than half of medical school classes. I am proud to stand alongside fellow women in medicine who work tirelessly to achieve better patient outcomes, advance medical knowledge and teach the next generation of physicians, but we have a long way to go to achieve equal representation in leadership and equal pay."
Bernardita Druhan, DO, Obstetrics-Gynecology
Judith Ngozi Brown, DO, Obstetrics-Gynecology
Farnaz Ganj, MD, Obstetrics-Gynecology
"This day marks the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the nation. Dr. Blackwell was 'allowed' to attend medical school as a joke, but she proved that women are not intellectually inferior, rather just as equal to the task. This is reminiscent of the popular quote, 'Being a woman is my superpower.'
As female physicians, especially in women's health, we are proud that we hold a unique perspective and hold an important role in making a difference in delivery of healthcare and access to our patients. That is truly a superpower."