About 90% of nurses, nursing assistants and CHHAs are women, so we at Towne Home Care celebrate women every day. But International Women’s Day provides us with an opportunity to focus on some of the great accomplishments of women in the healthcare field.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female doctor in the United States. She started her career as a teacher, but when a dying friend told her she would have been saved if her doctor had been a woman, she decided to go into medicine. She graduated from medical school in 1849 and established a hospital for women and children.

The first African-American female doctor was Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who graduated med school in 1864. She cared for freed slaves after the Civil War and was one of the first African-Americans to publish a medical book. Not much is known about her life besides what she wrote in the introduction to her book.

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross, after working with the International Red Cross in Europe. She was an independent nurse in the Civil War, delivering supplies and caring for soldiers on the battlefield. After the war ended, she worked for the War Office, reuniting missing soldiers with their families.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed head of the UN Human Rights Commission in 1948. She believed that people all over the world deserved access to healthcare, and helped write the standard of healthcare which all nations try to live up to.

Gertrude Belle Elion was a chemist who developed many lifesaving drugs, including Purinethol — the first major drug used to fight leukemia. In 1998, she won the Nobel Prize for medicine. She died in 1991, at the age of 81.

Dr. Regina Benjamin is the first African-American woman under the age of 40 to become a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association. She also served as U.S. Surgeon General under President Obama until 2013. Benjamin is also the founder and CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama.

Who are the women you admire in the medical field? Let us know in the comments.