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History of Women in Healthcare

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With Women’s History Month in full swing, Jogan Health wanted to honor the legacy of women in healthcare. We want to give our followers a history lesson on their importance to the field. When we talk about the role of women in this industry, a lot of folks might visualize a story of minimal influence, with the most hopeful of us anticipating a few notable examples of female excellence. Well, we’d be wrong!

Women have been at the forefront of the medical and healthcare industries for centuries. If we were to truly break down their history, the timeline would run side by side with the history of medicine itself! Since this would take too long for a simple article, we chose to detail some crucial stories that defied the pre-existing standards and chart a summarized course of the history of female healthcare providers. After all, they paved the way for the physicians, nurses, assistants, and professionals we all know today.

Women in Healthcare Who Broke the Mold

Women in healthcare

Though women have been the life-force behind healthcare for a long time, their roles were often limited and relegated to the back-burner in early classical, medieval, and feudal societies. Expected to care for children and adults in the home, the reverence provided to them by the public when it came to soothing and healing was quickly stripped away whenever they tried to transfer their very viable skills to the market.

Only now are women beginning to be acknowledged by the public for their crucial role in providing care and expertise on medical matters, and even so, there are still associations with certain roles that end up limiting these medical professionals from seeking new avenues to grow and evolve as caregivers.

Try as the establishment might, however, noteworthy names emerged during those early years. The first recorded female physician was Metrodora, a Greek doctor who practiced sometime between the years 200 and 400 CE. She was also the author of the oldest medical book written by a woman, which goes to show that, even back then, women weren’t just following and studying medical knowledge – they were discovering it!

The history of medicine continues to provide us with heroes worth mentioning. Women like Elizabeth Blackwell, who was the first American woman to receive a medical degree from an accredited university, Emily Blackwell, who opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children alongside her more well-known sister, and Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African American woman to earn an MD degree.

The Advent of Modern Nursing

Miss Nightingale was one of the most influential women in healthcare.
“Miss Nightingale at Scutari, 1854.” Commonly referred to as The Lady with the Lamp, this 1891 painting by Henrietta Rae depicts Florence Nightingale at Scutari Hospital during the Crimean War.

With the Crimean War came a decisive moment in the history of women, healthcare, and medicine. Once Florence Nightingale organized the care of thousands of wounded soldiers and lowered death rates to unprecedented numbers, the world turned on a dime. Women entered the workforce in droves and the movement led to the establishment of modern nursing. She eventually went on to meet Blackwell and the two reportedly bonded over their illustrious careers and shared love of medicine.

To a certain degree, Jogan Health owes its entire inception to women like Florence and Emily. Something not often noted about the story is that she achieved this feat by relying on rigorous data acquisition, graphical forms, reports, and, above all, statistics. She inspired the world by proving to the medical and healthcare community that she was as good as any other provider, and had the numbers to prove it!

The Transition to Healthcare at Large

In 1969, women in the United States made up 9% of all medical school enrollments. By 1985, a mere 16 years later, women constituted a staggering 16% of practicing American physicians. Figures in other countries were just as hopeful! A revolution of thought and action had occurred right under the medical establishment’s nose and they didn’t even know it!

Examples of women shattering the glass ceiling increased in the next few decades. Women like Gertrude Belle Elion were actively fighting disease and designing new treatments for life-altering conditions like leukemia, herpes, and AIDS — and they were finally being recognized for it! Elion eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize in medicine for her contributions. Women today continue to pave the way in very much the same way she did.

How Jogan Health Helps Women in Healthcare

Jogan Health was founded on the principle of helping communities in need during healthcare staffing shortages. We delivered hospital surge staffing and public health services to medical facilities and communities all over the country, and we couldn’t have done so without the aid of nurses, doctors, assistants, technicians, and so many other medical professionals. A huge number of these heroes were women!

To date, our organization currently employs almost 500 women. That’s over 67% of our workforce! It seems the torch passed from all those legendary leaders is still burning at Jogan Health, and we vow to continue doing right by our healthcare providers. Contact us today for more information on our health staffing services, as well as other initiatives Jogan Health is currently involved in.

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