Erxleben, Dorothea Dorothea Erxleben, 1715–1762, was Germany's first female doctor. She graduated from the University of Halle with an M.D. degree in 1740.
After graduation she started working at a hospital in Leipzig where she treated soldiers and sailors for small injuries and illnesses. In addition to medicine, she also learned how to use instruments such as needles and scalpels during her time there. In 1745, she moved to Berlin where she worked at a military hospital until her death in 1762. Her body is buried in Berlin's Friedrichskirchliche Hofkirche.
Until Erxleben's death, only men were allowed to study medicine in Germany. This rule didn't change until 1836 when King William IV of England and Ireland granted licenses to women physicians. However, these licenses did not allow their holders to practice medicine independently but rather served as documents necessary for them to work alongside a male physician.
Women have been able to study medicine in Germany since its founding in 1443. However, it wasn't until 1772 that the first class of female doctors was admitted to the University of Halle.
Hirsch, Rahel Rahel Hirsch was a German physician and professor at Berlin's Charite Medical School from September 15, 1870 until October 6, 1953. In 1913, she was recognized as the Kingdom of Prussia's first female professor of medicine. She is best known for her work on tuberculosis.
Other women who have been called "the first" include Dr. Anna Meigs (USA), Dr. Marie Zakrzewski (France), and Dr. Antonia Novella (Italy).
In addition to being the first female doctor in Berlin, Hirsch was also the first Jewish woman doctor in Germany. She opened her own practice in Berlin's Moabit district and worked there until her death in 1953.
Women have been allowed to study at German universities since 1809 when the first female student registered with the University of Göttingen. However, it wasn't until 1870 that the first female doctor was appointed in Berlin. That woman was Hirsch who became famous for treating patients without charging them. This made her job financially impossible but she still went ahead with her treatments regardless of the cost to herself.
Hirsch's efforts led to a change in the law so that now all students including females were required to pay fees to attend university. This fee structure remains in place today.
Dix, Dorothea Dix. (1832-1887) The National Nurse Association was founded by this pioneer nurse. She is considered the "mother" of modern nursing because of her efforts to improve hospital care for soldiers during the Civil War.
Farr, Florence E. (1828-1916) This married woman physician served as a volunteer nurse in the Union Army during the Civil War. She is credited with organizing the first military nurses' organization, which later became the American Red Cross.
Gardner, Jane Pirie (1820-1879) This Scottish-American surgeon's wife served as a nurse in the Union Army during the Civil War. She is best known for writing A Chapter on Women, which provided guidelines for female employment during that time period.
Goodwin, Mary Ann (1796-1880) This Englishwoman traveled to America with her husband, who worked as a merchant marine captain. When he died, she returned to England to raise their three children. She then returned to America again at the age of 46 to visit her relatives. While there, she heard about the war being fought between the Union and Confederate armies.
The First Professional Nurse, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Florence Nightingale was a British nurse and social reformer who developed a systematic method for improving hospital care. She began her career at the age of 29 as a military nurse during the Crimean War. There, she came across many poor medical practices that led to high mortality rates among her patients. This inspired her to begin working on finding better ways to treat wounded soldiers. After returning home, she worked at various hospitals including St Thomas' Hospital where she eventually became superintendent. Her efforts resulted in many improvements being made to hospital care including the creation of a new department called "the nursing service".
Nightingale is considered the father of modern nursing because of all the changes she brought about in hospital care. Before her time, there were no requirements for nurses to attend any kind of school or training program. They just needed to be able to read and write and have some basic patient care skills. Nightingale decided to go beyond this and set up courses and seminars to help improve nurses' knowledge and skill sets. In addition, she recommended that each hospital have its own nursing staff so that patients would not have to travel long distances to see different doctors.
Maria was one of Italy's first female physicians when she graduated from medical school in 1896. Although she was not the first female medical school graduate, as many of her biographers claim, this does not diminish her accomplishment. She worked for several years at a large hospital in Milan where she gained experience that would help her develop her own nursing school later on.
After marrying an affluent lawyer who died when they were still in their early thirties, Maria decided to leave medicine and start a new life. She had two children and lived a relatively quiet life for a while until she realized that there were no schools in Italy at the time teaching nursing to women. So she started one herself.
Her nursing school became very popular with women looking to learn how to care for sick family members or themselves. It only took her a few years to realize that this was what people wanted from a nurse, so she simply changed her curriculum to include topics such as medicine that were missing from other schools at the time. In 1907, she opened another school in a suburb of Milan which also became very successful.
In 1914, Maria went back to university to get a degree in science but did not finish. The same year, World War I began and she volunteered to work with injured soldiers at the local military hospital.