UW News

October 9, 2008

Two exhibits celebrate the achievements of women physicians

Women have been at the forefront of healing practices since the beginning of time, but it has only been in the past 150 years that they have been included in the formal study and practice of medicine. In fact, in 1950, only three of the 44 in the first graduating class of the UW School of Medicine were women. The entering 2008 class of UW medical students includes 93 women and 72 men.

Over the years, to gain access to medical education and hospital training, women had to overcome many adversities, including financial hardship, discrimination against women and, for some, racism.

Two exhibits on display at the UW celebrate the courage and the contributions of these women physicians, past and present, national and local.

Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians pays tribute to women in medicine, from the first medical school graduate, Elizabeth Blackwell in 1849 to today’s leading medical practitioners. The traveling exhibit, developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association, features the biographies of American women who confronted prejudices, achieved breakthroughs, led change and inspired others as they transformed the study and practice of medicine. The exhibit will be on display in room 102 of Suzzallo Library through Nov. 21.

“The University of Washington Libraries is thrilled to be hosting the Changing the Face of Medicine exhibit,” said Betsy Wilson, dean of University Libraries. “Because the University of Washington has trained so many medical leaders, it is fitting that this ground-breaking exhibition celebrating the achievements and lives of women in medicine comes to the UW Libraries.”

Local Legends, a companion exhibit that celebrates women physicians who have made exceptional contributions to the profession in their home state is also on display in the UW Health Sciences Library through Nov. 21. Among the Washington Local Legends with UWaffiliations featured are: Margaret Allen, heart transplant and organ donor pioneer; Nancy Auer, leader in emergency medicine and disaster preparedness; Wylie Burke, leading medical ethicist, historian and human genetics expert; Ann C. Collier, prominent HIV/AIDS researcher and clinician; Carla Greenbaum, leader in diabetes clinical research; Gail Jarvik, pioneer in medical genetics; Ramoncita Maestas, clinician and educator serving the underprivileged; Bonnie Ramsey, leader in research and treatment of cystic fibrosis; and Christina Surawicz, leading researcher and educator in gastroenterology.

Lisa Oberg, head of Outreach Services at the Health Sciences Library and co-chair of planning for the exhibit and events, said that together, the exhibits “give the viewer a new appreciation for all of the women physicians in their lives and knowledge of all the challenges faced and sacrifices people made along the way to get us where we are. I have a greater appreciation of where we are in history.”

Several special events have been planned in conjunction with both exhibits. Events include an opening gala at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, in Suzzallo Library, room 101; an open house featuring honored Washington women physicians, from 1 to 5 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 14; and a film series. For more information about the exhibits and these events, please visit http://healthlinks.washington.edu/hsl/ctfom.