National Women Physicians Day

National Women Physicians Day is observed on February 3rd, a day when everyone should take the time to honor the path that female doctors have pioneered over the last 172+ years. It officially marks the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S., in 1849. The day celebrates not only her but every woman who has had the courage and passion to join the medical field.

The History of National Women Physicians Day

Although this holiday celebrates hundreds of years of progress for women, the holiday itself has not been around for very long. It became an official holiday on February 3, 2016. This is when a Physician Moms Group and Medelita founded the day.

A Brief Biography of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821, in Bristol, England. In 1832, her family emigrated to New York because her father, Samuel Blackwell, had lost his sugar refinery to a fire. While the family was in New York, she became engaged in abolitionist work. This means that as she was growing up, she would listen to stories about not only slavery from her father at the dinner table but also about women’s rights and child labor.

While Elizabeth was in her mid-20s, her friend suffered from a terminal disease. Her friend felt embarrassed about going to male doctors and lamented that she would have fared better if she had been able to go to a female doctor. Her friend’s words so moved Blackwell, she decided that she had to pursue a career in medicine.

She studied independently with doctors, like many of her contemporaries, until she was accepted to Geneva Medical College in New York in 1847. Although her admittance caused an uproar, she stayed committed to her studies and eventually earned the respect of her male peers. She would go on to write a doctoral thesis on Typhus Fever and graduated first in her class in 1849. This made her the first woman to become a doctor of medicine—at least in the contemporary era.

Observing National Women Physicians Day

Observing this holiday is probably one of the easiest things for people to do. On this day, they can thank a female doctor for her work and let her know how much they appreciate her. They can also post to social media thanking women doctors for their work—making sure to use the hashtag #NationalWomenPhysiciansDay.

And finally, they can donate to organizations that deal with gender equality. After all, even though women can now be doctors, there is still a lot of work to be done. Women doctors do not make as much as their male counterparts, so there’s still plenty to get done before things are equal.

When is it?
This year (2024)
February 3 Saturday
Next year (2025)
February 3 Monday
Last year (2023)
February 3 Friday
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