Massachusetts Medical Society: Women Physicians Timeline

Women Physicians Timeline



Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to graduate from an established or “regular” American medical school — New York’s Geneva College of Medicine — today known SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Medicine.


Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler becomes the first black American in the United States to earn her medical degree from the New England Female Medical College.


Dr. Nancy Clark is the first female physician to apply for membership to the Massachusetts Medical Society and is denied entrance.


Dr. Susan Dimock applies for admission to the MMS and is denied admittance.


Seventeen state medical societies indicate that gender is not grounds for denying admission. By 1881, 115 women physicians are members of state medical societies.


Dr. Emma Louisa Call, who received her MD from the University of Michigan Medical School, is admitted as the first woman physician member to the MMS.

1985 - 1987

Dr. Barbara A. P. Rockett, a female surgeon from Newton, becomes the first woman president and the only president to serve two consecutive terms.


Dr. Marylou Buyse, a pediatrician who graduated from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, becomes the second woman president of the MMS.


Dr. Virginia Latham, a physician whose contributions to organized medicine span more than three decades, becomes the third woman president in the history of the MMS.


Dr. Alice A. Tolbert Coombs, a critical-care specialist and anesthesiologist who graduated from the University of Southern California and the UCLA School of Medicine, becomes the first Black woman physician to serve as president of the Society.


Dr. Lynda Young, a pediatrician and graduate of New York Medical College, becomes the fifth woman president of the Society.


Creation of the MMS Women Physicians Section.

Dr. Maryanne C. Bombaugh, an obstetrician/gynecologist and a veteran of the United States military, is elected president of the Medical Society. At 41%, Massachusetts ranks #1 as the highest percentage of active women physicians.


Dr. Carole Allen, a longtime trustee and delegate to the Medical Society, is a board-certified pediatrician who practiced in Massachusetts for 37 years before retiring in 2011, becomes the seventh woman president of the Society.

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