Born this day in 1847: Anna Elizabeth Broomall (1847–1931), obstetrician and educator who raised the standards of nurse training and obstetrics
Anna Elizabeth Broomall was born to a Quaker family in Upper Chichester Township, Pennsylvania. Fortunate to be born to a family that supported women’s equality and education, Broomall attended the Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia. She was also among the first group of women to attend clincs at the Pennsylvania Hospital, enduring harassment (including spitballs and being chased from the building) by male students. She graduated with an M.D. in 1871. After working at the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a year, she went abroad to study medicine. While overseas she learned much about obstetrics from leading French obstetricians.
Upon returning home, Broomall put her knowledge to work as chief resident of the Women’s Hospital. She also began teaching at the Woman’s Medical College. From these two platforms she raised the standards of nurse training and patient care and introduced state-of-the-art procedures. She also opened the first out-patient maternity clinics in the country, serving the poor residents of South Philadelphia. Her success was reflected in the low mortality rate achieved by the Woman’s Hospital.
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