|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Changing the Face of Medicine
By Kate Mutch, Public Services Librarian
February 27, 2008
February 27th through April 11th the library will host “Changing the Face of Medicine,” a traveling exhibit that introduces the general public to many unrecognized achievements by women in the field of medicine, celebrating the lives and careers of some of America's extraordinary women physicians. Their stories begin in the 19th century and continue through the 21st Century.
These women took on the social and economic costs of illness, improving services to the poor, women and children, an often ignored part of society when it came to health care. Many of the first female doctors fought societal norms and prejudices in order to attend medical school. The battle for acceptance by colleagues continued well into the 20th century, and some people would say it is still an ongoing struggle.
Wyoming ’s first woman to practice medicine, Dr. Lillian Heath Nelson, is one of the many women honored in this traveling exhibit. Dr. Nelson grew up in Rawlins and assisted the local doctor for seven years before deciding to become a doctor herself. She graduated in 1893 at the age of 27 and became one of the first women to practice medicine west of the Mississippi. During the 1890s, Rawlins was a rough area for anyone to live, especially women, and Dr. Nelson wore men’s clothing and carried a .32 caliber revolver for protection when she went out on house calls at night.
A fun part of the exhibit is the two kiosks with access to additional biographies of female physicians, interactive games, lesson plans, and explanations of what it takes to be a doctor from undergraduate work through residency.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bethesda, Md., and the American Library Association, Chicago, Ill., organized the traveling exhibition 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. The traveling exhibition is based on a larger exhibition that was displayed at the NLM from 2003–2005.
In conjunction with the display, the library will be hosting a number of events. Everyone is invited to the kick-off event on March 4th when Diane Mattern will speak about women physicians in the military. Her program will begin at 6:30 followed by hors d’ouvres and a chance to tour the exhibit.
March 10 th at 6:30, join the discussion of Virginia Cornell’s Doc Susie, the story of a true pioneer woman, Dr. Susan Anderson, struggling for acceptance in the harsh environment of the lumber camps, gold mines and railroad towns of the Colorado Rockies . Pick up your copy of the book at the library.
On March 25th at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Cynthia Works will speak about her experience practicing medicine in the Dominican Republic and Africa.
Events will culminate with a program by Carol Lee Bowers of the University of Wyoming. Ms. Bowers will speak about 19th century female physicians in the West.
The “Changing the Face of Medicine” exhibit is available for viewing during normal library hours, as well as before or after each of the special events. For more information stop by your library today, or call 577-READ.
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