What is National Women Physicians Day, what's the history of it and how is it recognized? Here's everything you need to know!
What is National Women Physicians Day?
National Women Physicians Day is a day to celebrate and honor the hard work of female physicians. It was established first to celebrate the courage of Elizabeth Blackwell, the United States' first female clinician. And, today, it recognizes the accomplishments of female physicians everywhere.
"The day strives to bring improvements to the workplace for the growing number of women physicians entering the field of medicine," according to National Today. "While the number of women doctors gradually increased in the last two decades, 2016 statistics show 35% of physicians are women. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last year revealed that women doctors earn on average 8% less than their male counterparts. That discrepancy along with nearly a third of women physicians reporting sexual harassment in the workplace and large majority experiencing gender bias. Clearly, there is still work to be done. National Women Physicians Day recognizes not only the strides that have been made by generations of women doctors but that a balance must be struck that allows women to succeed professionally while balancing family. Join National Women Physicians Day in celebrating these accomplishments and supporting women physicians as colleagues, friends, family and doctors."
When is National Women Physicians Day?
National Women Physicians Day falls on February 3, 2019. It happens on this same day every single year, as it is celebrated annually on the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, who, again, was the first female clinician in the United States.
"On February 3, honor the path that female doctors have paved since 1849 as we recognize National Women Physicians Day," says National Today. "This day marks the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1849. Dr. Blackwell initiated the movement that helped women gain entry and equality in the field of medicine."
What is the history of National Women Physicians Day?
Dr. Blackwell was the first woman clinician in the country, born on February 3, 1921. She's famous for saying, "If society will not admit of a woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled." She said this because she faced rejection after rejcection letter from medical schools with statements about her intellectual inferiority.
But National Women Physicians Day didn't come around until very recently. In fact, it's only a few years old.
In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of female physicians’ roles in medicine, both Physician Moms Group and Medelita founded February 3rd as National Women Physicians Day. Physician Moms Group then celebrated the first National Women Physicians Day on February 3, 2016.
That said, it was not until 2017 that the Registrar at National Day Calendar declared National Women Physicians Day a national holiday.
How is National Women Physicians Day celebrated?
There are tons of ways to recognize National Women Physicians Day. Here are four ways to do just that.
1. Thank your female physicians.
Be sure to reach out to your female physicians to say thank you on National Women Physicians Day. You can do this by stopping by their office to say thanks in person, or by sending a letter or some flowers or a small gift with a note to show your gratitude.
2. Spread the word about National Women Physicians Day on social media.
Take to social media to say thanks to your female physicians, and perhaps even share some enlightening statistics with your followers. You can use #IAMBLACKWELL, #WomensDocsInspire and #NWPD to help spread the word on social media.
3. Support female physicians with donations.
Celebrate female physicians with donations to organizations that support them. Women in Medicine, for example, is a great organization with which to start. Here are a few ways your donations can help, according to the organization:
- "Your donations help offset the cost of each conference, helping us keep registration fees reasonable and affordable for all."
- "Your donations make it possible for medical students to attend this invaluable retreat — The more we raise, the more students we can assist! (Medical Student Conference Scholarships)"
- "Your donations assist fellow physicians and significant others who need financial assistance in order to attend. (Special Needs Fund)"
- "Your donations can support the annual WIM $5,000 Leadership Scholarship for LGBTQ female medical students enrolled in allopathic or osteopathic medical schools in the US or Canada."
- "Your donations build and maintain endowed funds, such as the LeClair Bissell Speaker Fund."
- "Your donations support WIM’s day-to-day operations — postage and mailing fees, website expenses, etc."
- "Donations may be made to WIM in general; or you may specify how you want your funds distributed to any of the above categories."
- "Donations greater than $1,501 will be rewarded to one free tuition to attend the upcoming conference. This is non-transferable and only good for the current year. "
Other organizations to consider include the American Medical Women's Association and Doctors Without Borders. The American Medical Women's Association is "comprised of physicians, residents, medical students, pre-medical students, health care professionals and supporters," as it "is the oldest multispecialty organization dedicated to advancing women in medicine and improving women’s health." It's mission is to "advance women in medicine, advocate for equity and ensure excellence in health care."
Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders is "an independent, global movement providing medical aid where it’s needed most." This means that doctors, including female physicians, put themselves on the frontlines of conflict zones and in natural disasters to help keep people alive and healthy. The funds go to good causes, too; 88% of funds go to programs, 11% goes to fundraising and the remaining 1% goes to general management. So you can rest assured that your donations to Doctors Without Borders will make a positive impact.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.