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First Woman Doctor

The nation’s first woman doctor received her M.D. in 1849 — as the result of a joke. Elizabeth Blackwell had applied to many medical schools but was rejected because of her gender. The faculty at Geneva Medical College in New York, decided to let the students vote on her application, sure it wouldn’t go through. But as a gag, the students voted “yes.” Dr. Blackwell moved to New York City, but found it hard to get a job at established hospitals and clinics. So, she opened her own dispensary in 1854, which three years later had grown to become the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Now, there are 863,000 doctors in the U.S. — almost one-third of them women.

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