For the first time in history, more women will graduate from medical schools across the country than men and at VCU Medical School graduation ceremonies this weekend, they are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their first female graduate.
The Medical College of Virginia graduated its first woman physician in 1918, near the end of World War I, when men were called into battle, and women were admitted on a temporary basis. Here, and across the nation, their numbers have risen dramatically, this year, for the first time surpassing men in the class of 2018.
At VCU Christina Page is also making history of her own.
“My grandmother is going to be in the audience. She and my grandfather were the first physicians in the family. And I guess they have inspired a bit of a family physician. My mom and actually my Dad, too, have followed in their footsteps. And now I’m finishing school.”
Christina’s grandmother graduated from the University of Havana’s medical school when female physicians were rare.
“This is a fundamental change for our profession.” Keynote Speaker Dr. Claire Pomeroy is president of the Lasker Foundation and champion of those vulnerable people in society who do not have access to adequate medical care.
“I think it brings the hope that we can make sure that empathy, compassion and kindness are highlighted and prioritized in every patient-physician interaction.”
She says diversity in the profession can help fix a health care system she says is broken.
“It is a big wish, but we need not just general access to medicine for patients, but affordable access too. And, it’s a complicated question, but I am hopeful that over the course or my career, we can see some major improvements," said Page.
"I think we need to understand that our current health care system is characterized by huge health disparities, on the basis of lots of things, gender and race and socio-economic status. And I hope that women can lead the charge in addressing health equity." said Dr. Pomeroy.
Christina becomes a physician this weekend, one of 210 medical students who will graduate from the VCU School of Medicine this weekend, half of them, women.
“We have three generations of female physicians, which is really unique and I think good for the field of medicine.”