Women doctors are the focus of a new traveling exhibition opening Friday, Oct. 12 at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences at the University of Iowa.”Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians” tells the extraordinary story of how American women who wanted to practice medicine have struggled over the past two centuries to gain access to medical education and to work in the medical specialty they chose.
The National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Md., and the American Library Association in Chicago, Ill., organized the exhibition with support from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health and the American Medical Women’s Association. The traveling exhibition is based on a larger exhibition that was displayed at the National Library of Medicine 2003-05.
“Changing the Face of Medicine” features the life stories of a rich diversity of women physicians from around the nation and highlights the broad range of medical specialties women are involved in today.
“Women have brought fresh perspectives to the medical profession,” said Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the National Library of Medicine. “They have turned the spotlight on issues that had previously received little attention, such as the social and economic costs of illnesses and the low numbers of women and minorities entering medical school and practice.”
Women physicians in the 21st century are benefiting from the career paths carved out since the mid-19th century by a long line of American women. Some early physicians featured in the exhibition are Matilda Evans, the first African American physician to be licensed in South Carolina, and Florence Sabin, one of the earliest woman physicians to work as a research scientist. Among the many other doctors whose stories appear in the exhibition are Antonia Novello, the first woman Surgeon General of the United States, and Catherine DeAngelis, the first woman to be appointed editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Two interactive kiosks traveling with the exhibition offer access to the National Library of Medicine’s “Local Legends” Web site (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/locallegends), which features outstanding women physicians from every state, and to a Web site created for the larger exhibition at the National Library of Medicine: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine.
The exhibition Web site offers access to educational and professional resources for people considering medicine as a career, as well as lesson plans for classroom activities. A section of the Web site called “Share Your Story,” allows the public to add the names and biographies of women physicians they know.
The Hardin Library is one of 62 libraries in the United States to host the exhibit and one of two in Iowa; the Council Bluffs Public Library will also host the exhibit after the Hardin Library.
“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Linda Walton, associate university librarian and director of the Hardin Library. “Although ‘Changing the Face of Medicine’ focuses on women in medicine, its lessons about persistence, dedication and courage in one’s life choices speak to everyone — men and women and young adults — and to people in all lines of work.”
An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Thursday, Oct. 18 starting at 4 p.m. in the Medical Education Research Facility Atrium at the UI. UI alumna Susan Winckler, chief of staff for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Jennifer Niebyl, M.D., professor and head of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will speak about the changing role of women in health care at 5 p.m. in the Sahai Auditorium. The exhibit will be open for viewing in the Hardin Library after the reception speakers.
The Hardin Library is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibition. For more information and hours, visit the library’s Web site at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/women.