A pioneering female doctor and educator of female physicians.
Born to Polish immigrant parents in Berlin. She was an extraordinarily brilliant child, and after leaving school at 13, she accompanied her mother to treat patients and learn to be a midwife. After repeating rejections, she enrolled in the midwifery school, and graduated at 22, becoming the first woman to hold the position of a chief midwife with the rank as a professor at the college.
Zakrzewska kept her position for only six months, after which she was forced to resign due to the protest and objection to the idea of a female maintaining this position. Thus, in 1853, she immigrated to the United States hoping to find better opportunities to practice medicine as a woman.
When she was 27 years old, she graduated Medical School and together with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Zakrzewska worked 17 hours a day to maintain the growing number of patients.
Zakrzewska became a resident physician and professor of obstetrics and diseases of women and children at the New England Female Medical College in Boston, but resigned after realizing that the founder of the college was only interested in training midwives and not female doctors. That same year she founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children, an institute that provided not only clinical care, but also training for female nurses and practice for female physicians. The hospital was revolutionary, opened the path and encouraged women to enter the field of medicine.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She was a supporter of women’s suffrage.
- She pioneered the movement that opened the nursing profession to black women.