Women In Wellness

While doing some research on spa industry information, I stumbled across one of the first Wellness Programs started the USA.

I was excited to learn the program was started by a nurse at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the early 1970’s. Mary Fleishauer attended a workshop by Dr. John W. Travis at the Wellness Resource Center, inspiring her to start the first university-based campus wellness center. Influential in the spread of the wellness movement across the United States, Campus wellness programs became popular and spread throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Of course, one cannot read an excerpt like that without wondering what other interesting things women have accomplished in the Health & Wellness field – so with that thought, I got lost in hours of Google searches and link-surfing to bring you a few fun facts about women in medicine.

It’s exactly what happens to me when I go into the Target store for 1 or 2 items and come out $175 later!


Here’s What I Learned In A Distracting 2 Hours:

  • Merit Ptah (2700 BC), earliest cited women physician in Egypt
  • Agamede, pre-Trojan War healer
  • Agnodike, the first female physician to practice legally in 4th century BC Athens.
  • Trotula of Salerno, 11th century physician who is supposed to have held a chair at the Medical School of Salerno.
  • Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) is considered Germany’s first female physician.

In the 17th century wives could not own property, but three qualified widows, Susan Lyon, Anne Crosse, and the Widow Wyncke, were allowed to run early pharmacies called apothecary shops after their husbands passed.

  • James Miranda Barry (179?-1865), a renowned woman doctor who passed as a man to gain a medical education and practice medicine.
  • Amalia Assur (1803–1889), first woman dentist in Sweden and possibly Europe.
  • Ann Preston (1813–1872), first female dean of any medical school.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910), first woman to graduate from medical school in the US; MD 1849, Geneva College, New York.

Dr. Blackwell’s acceptance was a near-accident. The dean and faculty, usually responsible for evaluating an applicant for matriculation, were not able to make a decision due to the special nature of her case. They put the issue up to vote by the 150 male students of the class with the stipulation that if one student objected, she would be turned away. The young men thought this request was so ludicrous that they believed it to be a joke, and responding accordingly, voted unanimously to accept her.

It warms my heart to know she got the last laugh!

  • Rebecca Lee Crumpler, (1831 – 1895), first African American woman physician in the United States.
  • Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833–1910), the first woman dentist in the United States.
  • Kadambini Ganguly (1861–1923), the first Indian woman to obtain a medical degree in India having graduated from the Calcutta Medical College in 1886.


So I encourage you to meander through it on your own if you find it interesting! One thing I know I will be forever grateful for is the change in OB/GYM affairs!

In 1972 the University of Iowa Medical School instituted a new training program for pelvic and breast examinations. Female students would act both as the doctor and the patient, allowing each student to understand the procedure, and create a more gentle, respectful, examination. This method was much different than the previous practice in which doctors were taught to assert their power over patients.

By 1980 over 75 schools had adopted this new method.