Exhibit at Rush Celebrates Women in Medicine

Christine Frank, director of the Library of Rush University Medical Center.

By Christine Frank

The wait is almost over! It was March 2009 when I first began exploring the possibility of bringing the exhibit “Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians” to Rush University Medical Center. Finally, library staff is mounting the exhibit in the fourth-floor Atrium Lobby at Rush.

The official exhibition dates are Jan. 3-30, 2011. The exhibit tells the remarkable story of how women struggled for the right to study in medical schools and to practice medicine in the United States. “Changing the Face of Medicine” begins with Elizabeth Blackwell, who became the first woman to earn an MD degree in America in 1849, and ends with women doctors today, who have achieved success in work once considered “unsuitable” for a woman. Among them are Antonia Novello, the first woman surgeon general of the United States, and Lori Arviso Alvord, a Navajo physician who incorporates elements of traditional healing in her practice.

The Library of Rush University Medical Center is one of 84 libraries from across the country selected to host the exhibit after it was shown at the National Library of Medicine (NLM)  between 2003 and 2005. This is the first traveling NLM exhibit we have ever hosted. It’s particularly gratifying because the exhibit theme connects well with the issue of diversity to which Rush is so committed. Indeed, the Diversity Leadership Group (DLG) and the Provost’s Council on Gender Issues are sponsoring events in conjunction with the exhibit. And, the DLG has scheduled Diversity Week for the last week of January.

The DLG will host Alice Eagly, Ph.D. James Padilla Chair of Arts and Sciences, professor of psychology, Northwestern University, who will give the closing keynote address for the exhibit:  “Women as Leaders:  Negotiating the Labyrinth.” Dr. Eagly is a renowned writer on the subjects of gender and leadership. In 2009, the American Psychological Association recognized her for her work, giving her the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 2009.

Equally exciting is the opening keynote address by Rush alum Julie Freischlag, MD, who is the chair of the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University. Working Mother magazine has named Dr. Freischlag one of “The Most Powerful Moms in Health Care.” Freischlag is only one of three women chief surgeons in the country. I think it will be a very inspiring talk for our female Rush University students.

And our Medical Center Archivists Heather Stecklein, Nathalie Wheaton and Judith Dzierba have been busy doing extensive historical research on women at Rush. They will give two lectures covering the late 19th- early 20th-century Rush women physicians and nursing education.

The exhibit will also feature brochures from Rush female health care providers and women’s health services at Rush.  The exhibit location is idea for patients and visitors to browse the exhibit and learn more about our services.

Here is information about the four events that will take place in conjunction with the “Changing the Face of Medicine” exhibit:

Friday,  Jan. 7, noon–2 p.m.: “Are You Ready for a Woman In Charge? Leadership in Academic Medicine.” This opening keynote address will be by Julie A. Freischlag, MD, William Stewart Halsted Professor and chairperson of the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Sponsored by the Provost’s Committee on Gender Issues. A reception will follow. (Armour Academic Center, Room 994).

Thursday, January 13, noon–1  p.m.: “Lady Doctors: Women Physicians at Rush Medical College, 1900-1920.” Lecture by Nathalie Wheaton, MSMLS, assistant archivist, Rush University Medical Center. (Armour  Academic Center,  Room 539).

Thursday, January 20, noon–1 p.m.: “The Art of Nursing: Nursing Education at Rush University’s Predecessor Schools, 1900-1920. Lecture by Heather Stecklein, MA, MLS, archivist, Rush University Medical Center. (Armour Academic Center, Room 539.)

Tuesday, January 25, 4–6 p.m.: “Women as Leaders: Negotiating the Labyrinth.” This closing keynote address for the exhibit will be by Alice Eagly, Ph.D. James Padilla Chair of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University  The talk is being sponsored by the Rush Diversity Leadership Group.  A reception will follow. (Armour Academic Center, Room 994).

The exhibition was organized by the National Library of Medicine and the American Library Association with support from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the American Medical Women’s Association.

For more information about the schedule of programs for the exhibition, call (312) 942-8735 or visit the Rush University Web site.

Christine Frank, MLS, AHIP, is director of the Library of Rush University Medical Center.

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