Upon her graduation from Cornell University School of Medicine in 1897, Emily Dunning faced the traditional “male only” barrier of the medical profession. Though women had gained admission to medical colleges, none were allowed appointments to a hospital house staff. Encouraged by mentor Dr Mary Putnam Jacobi to take the competitive internship exams despite no chance of appointment, Dr Dunning lobbied the Medical Board and Trustees of Mt. Sinai Hospital, which granted permission to sit for the examination with the understanding she would not be admitted no matter her standing. Dr. Dunning scored first place, and applied to several of the city hospitals with quarters capable of housing a woman. All refused her admission. For the next year she continued with personal appeals, and failed in swaying the Health Commissioner until the election of Mayor Seth Low.
In 1902 Dr. Dunning became the first woman admitted to an internship program in New York, at Gouverneur Hospital on Manhattans' Lower East Side. In 1903 she became the first woman Ambulance Surgeon. Though she had gained entry, she still faced ongoing harassment by her all male class members, who assigned her difficult on call schedules and ward duties designed to discourage her completion. Despite the hardship, she gained the cooperation and encouragement of the nursing staff, ambulance drivers, police officers, her patients, as well as some celebrity in the press.
"Bowery to Bellevue; the Story of New York's First Woman Ambulance Surgeon;
a book by Iris Noble- "First Woman Ambulance Surgeon";
and the 1952 film "The Girl in White" starring June Allyson
Keywords: Barringer, Dunning, Bellevue, Gouverneur
Last Revision Date: 3/30/08 - 6:43 PM