March 10, 2023

Category: Healthcare Industry, Intiva Health

March is Women’s History Month, a month to celebrate the legendary women whose contributions paved the way for the coming generation of women. In addition, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day to pay homage to the courage, intellect, and resilience of women across the globe.

This post will highlight some of the most iconic women in the healthcare industry whose accomplishments made it easier for today’s generation of medical researchers, scientists, and healthcare practitioners to soar to new heights of success.

First, let’s look at these female pioneers in the history of medicine.

Top Women Medical Pioneers

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821- 1910)

Blackwell was the first accredited female doctor in the history of the United States. She received an MD degree in 1849. She initiated her medical journey after a terminally ill friend said she would have gotten better care from a female doctor.

However, Blackwell’s journey wasn’t easy. More than ten medical schools rejected her application, and a professor suggested she try out her luck as a male applicant to get admitted. Blackwell’s resilience and determination ultimately led her to attend the Geneva Medical College in Western New York. She was a lifelong advocate for female doctors.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895)

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman in the country to earn a medical degree. Crumpler was accepted to the New England Female Medical College in Boston, Massachusetts, after serving as a nurse there for eight years and collecting letters of recommendation from physicians. She was the school’s first and only black graduate when she finished her studies in 1864. Crumpler battled prejudice against African Americans and women in medicine to finish her degree.

She returned to Boston by 1869 and narrowed her focus on researching the illnesses affecting underprivileged women and children. Crumpler’s famous book, A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts (1883), highlighted significant findings about women’s and children’s health. Dr. Crumpler is renowned for her pioneering work in medicine and efforts to battle racial prejudice.

Mary Putnam Jacobi, MD (1842-1906)

Biology fascinated Mary when she was a little girl when she even considered dissecting a dead rat. Her father, a renowned publisher, George Putnam, reluctantly supported her medical journey. She earned her MD degree in 1864.

Like many other medical graduates of her time, Mary decided she could benefit from the scientific training available only in European medical schools. As a result, she was also the first woman in history to be admitted into ’École de Médecine in Paris. Jacobi argued for coeducation for medical students and established the Association for the Advancement of Medical Education in 1872.

Inventions and Discoveries by Women in Healthcare Industry

Now let’s explore some of the most famous inventions made by women in the healthcare industry.

Undulant Fever Bacterium

Alice Evans, an American scientist, discovered germs in raw milk that were harmful to animals and humans. The scientific and medical circles first dismissed her research until another scientist subsequently proposed it. Her finding ultimately resulted in the pasteurization of milk to prevent the disease.

Research on Scarlet Fever

American bacteriologists Dr. Gladys and her husband, George Dick, proved in 1924 that the beta-hemolytic organism Streptococcus pyogenes was the cause behind scarlet fever. They also discovered that the organism produces a toxin that could cause this deadly disease or lead to rheumatic fever. They developed a skin test to determine an individual’s vulnerability to the disease, followed by the development of a treatment.

Medical Syringe

In 1899, Letitia Mumford Greer created the first rectal syringe that could be used with one hand. Prior to this invention, syringes required the use of two hands.

Anti-Fungal Antibiotic

Rachel Fuller Brown and Elizabeth Lee Hazen, two female scientists, created an antibiotic to prevent fungal infections. It’s frequently experienced by those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplantation, AIDS patients, and burn victims. The two tested soil sample organisms against fungus through the mail. They later created the Brown-Hazen Fund, which dedicates all research earnings to funding life sciences researchers.

Meningitis Treatment

Dr. Hattie Alexander was the woman behind the first efficient therapy for the typically fatal pediatric illness, influenza meningitis. She gained worldwide recognition for her discovery. The treatment practically eliminated all cases of infant mortality caused by this condition. She was one of the first women who served as the president of a national medical organization, the American Pediatric Society, in 1964.

Factor VIII

Judith Graham Pool, a physiologist, developed a way to produce a clotting factor that you could freeze, keep, and use by hemophiliacs at home. As the co-president of the Association of Women in Science and founding chair of Professional Women of Stanford University Medical Center, she fought for women’s rights in the medical field.

Apgar Score

Every newborn in a modern hospital, anywhere in the world, is initially inspected through Dr. Virginia Apgar’s eyes. She created the “Apgar Score,” a 10-point evaluation of a newborn’s health and vitality after one and five minutes of the birth. Her discovery significantly reduced newborn mortality and set the foundation for neonatology.

Sickle Cell Research

Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston discovered that penicillin could effectively prevent sepsis. She was the first African American woman to lead a public health service bureau and a prominent researcher on sickle cell illness. Dr. Gaston is acknowledged for her continued dedication to enhancing the health of minority and low-income Americans.

Laserphaco Probe

During cataract surgery, the surgeon uses a device and technique called the laserphaco probe. Dr. Patricia Era Bath, an ophthalmologist and laser scientist, created this invention. She was also the first black woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical device.

Prefrontal Cortex Mapping

The research of Dr. Patricia Goldman-Rakic in prefrontal cortex mapping and cortical neuroscience led to a new understanding of the brain’s frontal lobes. In addition, her study expanded our knowledge of how disorders like Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s affect planning, cognition, and working memory.

HIV Research

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, a molecular biologist and virologist, is a true pioneer in HIV research. Her research helped identify HIV as the primary cause of AIDS and paved the road for blood tests. In addition, she was the first to clone HIV.

Chemotherapy Treatments

Dr. Jane Wright developed a method to deliver potent medication dosages to treat tumors in difficult-to-reach locations, advancing chemotherapy as a viable therapeutic option. As a result, she became the first woman to serve as the president of the New York Cancer Society and the highest-ranking African American woman in a medical institution in the country.

Intravenous Catheter Shield

The intravenous catheter shield, developed by Lisa Vallino and Betty Rozier, a mother-daughter duo, made administering IVs in a safe environment simpler. Vallino was an ER nurse who collaborated with her mother to develop the device.

Stem Cell Isolation

Researcher and inventor Ann Tsukamoto made a breakthrough in stem cell isolation, which contributed to advancements in the field of oncology.


The first lab-grown milk with the same nutritional makeup and complexity as breast milk was created by BIOMILQ. Scientists who co-founded the company, Michelle Egger and Leila Strickland, use lab-grown mammary cells to produce casein and lactose, two essential components of breast milk. This is a crucial first step towards making cultured breast milk that is “nutritionally similar” to natural breast milk.

NextGen Jane

NextGen Jane, a company founded in 2014, is beta-testing an intelligent tampon that collects menstrual blood to identify disorders of the vagina in women. The NextGen Jane smart tampon, which Ridhi Tariyal co-founded, enables women to mail in cells shed during their period to discover any biological changes indicative of sickness.

The Blue Box

The Blue Box, the winner of the James Dyson Award, is an upcoming biomedical urine test for painless, affordable, and in-home breast cancer testing. Judit Giró Benet created the test, instructing participants to collect urine in a plastic cup, put it inside The Blue Box, and press ‘start’ from the app. Six chemical sensors in The Blue Box respond to specific breast cancer indicators (if any are present) within 30 seconds, displaying data on the user’s phone.

Connect with Ready Doc

A medical credentialing management solution, Ready Doc, aids medical facilities in streamlining the credentialing procedure. The system ensures that all healthcare providers possess the certifications, licenses, and other paperwork needed to practice medicine.

If you are an aspiring medical professional inspired by the revolutionary women in medicine we just covered, you can upload your credentials to the Ready Doc platform.

Through automated email alerts, Ready Doc assists healthcare workers in maintaining compliance by informing them when credentials are about to expire. Medical groups and hospitals can benefit from Ready Doc to audit and validate each provider’s credentials. In addition, users can monitor the OIG report status for each employee to know if there are any reported issues. Get in touch with us to find out more about Ready Doc.