6 Amazing African-American Women Medical Trailblazers Everyone Should Know

There have been great contributions to medical history made by African-Americans, but what you might not know is several of the accomplishments and achievements have been made by black women. Some of these names you may recognize, and some you may not; however we owe all these phenomenal medical trailblazers respect and recognition for their hard work, sacrifices, and contributions to the world.


1. Dr. Jane Cook Wright

Dr. Jane Cook Wright was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke. She later became the professor of surgery, and head of the chemotherapy cancer department and associate dean at New York Medical College. She was the highest-ranking black woman recognized across the nation for medical contribution in an institute.


2. Dr. Alexa Canady

Dr. Alexa Canady became the first black female neurosurgeon in the United States. Canady was 26 when she was accepted as a resident at the University of Minnesota in 1976. She shares a U.S. patent for the anti-siphon shunt device, used to treat excess fluid in the brain with two other neurosurgeons.


3. Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black female in the United States to obtain a Medical Degree. She also became the only black female to graduate from the university.


4. Dr. Helen Octavia Dickens

Dr. Helen Octavia Dickens graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at the age of 25 in 1934.She later became the director of Mercy-Douglass Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Philadelphia.


5. Dr. Regina Benjamin

Dr. Regina Benjamin at the age of 39 became the first black woman, and the first person under the age of 40, to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. In 2002, she became the first black female president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. She was chosen “Person of the Week” by ABC World News Tonight, and “Woman of the Year” by both CBS This Morning and People Magazine.


6. Dr. M. Jocelyn Elders

Dr. M. Jocelyn Elders became the chief resident at the University of Arkansas at the age of 28, in 1961. She was also the first person in the state of Arkansas to be board certified in pediatric endocrinology.





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