February is Black History Month. St. Augustine, FL-based WOLFPACC celebrates by saluting two pioneers in the medical industry – James McCune Smith and Rebecca Lee Crumpler.
In 1837, Dr. Smith became the first African American to hold a medical degree, graduating at the top of his class at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and completing an internship in Paris. After graduation, he returned to his home state of New York, where he worked as a physician for the Colored Orphan Asylum in Manhattan for nearly 20 years. He also became the first African American to run a pharmacy in the United States. Throughout his career, Dr. Smith contributed to numerous medical journals and drew upon his medical training to refute common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine and society in general. Yet, despite his accomplishments and contributions, he was never admitted to the American Medical Association or local medical associations.
Dr. Crumpler, born in 1831, followed suit as the first African-American woman to become a physician in the US, beginning her career as a nurse in 1953 and graduating from the New England Female Medical College in 1864. Soon after, she began practicing medicine in Boston, primarily serving poor women and children. When the American Civil War ended in 1965, she moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau, providing medical care to freed slaves. There, “men doctors snubbed her, druggist balked at filling her prescriptions, and some people wisecracked that the M.D. behind her name stood for nothing more than ‘Mule Driver,'” according to a biography, Changing the Face of Medicine, held by the National Library of Medicine. Dr. Crumpler’s written work, A Book of Medical Discourses, published in 1883, was one of the earliest medical publications written by an African American.
We here at WOLFPACC salute Dr. Smith, Dr. Crumpler and others who have defied societal norms to help make the medical profession and the world in general better.
If you’re considering a medical career, call 904-209-3140 to find out how WOLFPACC can help assure your success.