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Elizabeth Blackwell: First U.S. Woman Physician

Date: September 26, 2013
Time: 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Light refreshments at 5:30; lecture at 6:00


Stephen G. Friedman, MD, MBA, Weil Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital

Location: The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

Stephen G. Friedman, MD, MBA, will speak about the life and career of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree from a U.S. medical college.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England, in 1821, to puritanical Sunday school teachers. Financial reversals led her parents to immigrate to the United States in 1832. Blackwell’s parents were active in the abolitionist movement , which brought Elizabeth into contact with luminaries in the field like William Channing and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Blackwell was also influenced by Margaret Fuller, a coeditor of “The Dial” with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a leader of the budding women’s rights movement. When a family friend became ill with uterine cancer, she encouraged Blackwell to become a doctor.

Despite warnings about the futility of her plan, Blackwell applied to medical schools throughout the country and was accepted to Geneva Medical College in 1847. Following her graduation, Blackwell pursued further study abroad. When she returned to New York City she had difficulty establishing a practice, so in 1857 she opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. Eleven years later, the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary was opened and Blackwell had realized another dream. Blackwell returned to England permanently in July 1869, where she continued her pioneering work. In 1910, Blackwell suffered an incapacitating stroke and died six days later. The profound effect Elizabeth Blackwell had upon the practice of medicine in the United States is memorialized by the vast number of female physicians practicing today.

About the Speaker(s)

Steven G. Friedman, M.D., M.B.A., is the Chief of the Division of Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. He received a B.A. degree from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1976, and he received the rarely-conferred degree M.D. with Distinction in Research from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1980. Dr. Friedman received an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2011. Dr. Friedman completed a general surgical residency at Harvard’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital, in Boston, in 1985, and a vascular surgery fellowship at N.Y.U. Medical Center in 1986.

In 1996, Dr. Friedman founded and directed the North Shore University vascular surgery fellowship program in Manhasset, N.Y., and in 2001, he founded and directed the vascular surgery fellowship program for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. Dr. Friedman is the author of more than 70 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, numerous book chapters, and the book A History of Vascular Surgery. His work has also appeared in the N.Y. Times, Midstream Magazine, and Downtown Magazine. Dr. Friedman is a member of all of the major national and international vascular surgery societies and he is a distinguished member of the Society of Vascular Surgeons. Dr. Friedman is a past president of the New York Society of Vascular Surgery and he is a Professor of Clinical Surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College.


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