I’m slumped in the chair, my feet propped up, staring at the ceiling. At the Willamette Writers conference last weekend, I decided my path to get my novels published. It’ll be a long journey, with lots of work ahead of me. I feel overwhelmed.
Elizabeth Blackwell did not get overwhelmed, or at least not enough to make her quit when applying to medical school.
She was motivated by a friend dying from uterine cancer. Doctors had told her friend she was initially suffering from a “women’s’ troubles” and “emotionalism.” Her friend said she would have been spared her worst suffering if she had a female physician.
But women were not admitted into those all-male schools in 1840s. She applied to all the schools in New York and Philadelphia, plus twelve others in the northeastern United States. Only Hobart Medical College in New York would accept her upon the vote of the all-male student body. They voted her in as a joke.
It must have been humiliating to her.
That didn’t stop Elizabeth. She went on to excel at her studies and became the first woman to hold a medical degree in the U.S. She had further hurdles to face as a female physician, including being deluged with obscene letters and being called a harlot and abortionist.
She knew what she wanted and went after it. The long journey ahead of me? If Elizabeth Blackwell can do it, so can I.