Women Pioneers in Cardiology
To recognize Women’s History Month, and to go along with this newsletter’s “Time Is Muscle” about our code carts and how they can help in a cardiac event, we thought it appropriate to share just one of the names and achievements of women who made strides in cardiology. It would take pages and pages to share every single detail about the amazing women in the field and their medical careers. You can always look up more female cardiologists online to learn about each one and their entire story, and we encourage you to do so!
Maude Abbott was already a trailblazer by being one of the first women to earn a BA from McGill University after she was previously rejected from attending because she was a women (1890 as valedictorian), graduate from medical school in Canada as the only woman in Bishop’s University graduating class of 1894, and winner of the Chancellor’s Prize at her alma mater. She had lofty ambitions, but because she was a female, her accomplishments in schooling were not considered equivalent to that of a male, and she was unsuccessful in her search for employment at a hospital in Canada.
Unfazed, she opened her own medical clinic in 1897 that focused on women and children, and conducted research in pathology with a focus on heart disease in newborns. This innovative work led her to worldwide recognition for her insights on heart defects and an invitation to write the “Congenital Heart Disease” chapter in a medical book helmed by a man and led her to be the global authority (at the time) on congenital heart disease – quite impressive achievements for a woman in 1905. Throughout her life, she won numerous awards and wrote almost 150 books and papers, in addition to lectures on her chosen specialty. In 1936, the year she retired, she wrote the “Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease”, which was based on more than 1,000 records of patients. To this day, it is recognized as an important resource for cardiologists the world over.
Dr Abbott inspired many future doctors, including Dr Helen B Taussig. She was a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and many consider her founding mother of modern pediatric cardiology. Basing her work on Dr Abbott’s, she came up with an operation to repair the congenital heart defect that caused “blue baby” syndrome, which had its first successful outcome in 1944. She was the first woman to be the American Heart Association’s President (1965).
Today, women are still underrepresented in cardiology, but there are organizations like Women in Cardiology with a goal of changing that through mentoring programs, networks, and support.