First Women Doctors in VA

On January 3, 1946, the same day that a law was enacted to establish VA’s Department of Medicine and Surgery, VA announced the appointment of its first woman consulting physician.

Dr. Margaret D. Craighill, the first woman physician ever commissioned with the U.S. Army Medical Corps (in 1943), became VA’s first chief medical consultant on women veteran’s medical care after her discharge from the Army. She was also a member of the Menninger School of Psychiatry’s first class held in Topeka, KS.

Women_1946_MgtCraighillAppt_NYT93009680

Dr Janeway

Dr Janeway

Later that year, in November 1946, VA announced the appointment of its first women doctors—10 were hired. These doctors set out to ensure that medical care for women veterans in VA hospitals and homes were kept at the highest possible standards at all times. Dr. Margaret Janeway was the first one hired. VA’s first women doctors, with branch office assignments as of November 1946, are listed below:

Dr. Margaret Janeway – New York (1939 photo left)

Dr. Marion C. Loizeaux – Boston

Dr. Jane Liebfried – Philadelphia

Dr. Gertrude R. Holmes – Atlanta

Dr. Grace Haskin – Columbus, OH

Dr. Angie Conner – Chicago

Dr. Elizabeth Fletcher – St. Louis

Dr. Eleanor B. Gutman – Seattle

Dr. Hulda E. Thelander – San Francisco (one of the first women physicians in the Navy)

Dr. Ruth Bergess – Denver

1946_10 Women Doctors Named to VA Posts_NYT93188103

Although women veterans had access to medical care in federal veterans hospital beginning in 1923 at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers’ Danville Branch in Illinois, they were treated by male physicians in a predominantly male environment with very little supporting services. Beginning in 1946, VA hired women—most of them veterans, themselves—as doctors and other key roles to provide medical care, services, and programs for women veterans.

Links:

Dr. Margaret Craighill: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_72.html; http://xdl.drexelmed.edu/item.php?object_id=3055&t=womanmd; https://library.hws.edu/archives/pdfs/92%20B56zc.pdf; http://www.tribunephotos.com/HCC-848-BS-Photo-Margaret-Craighill-Surgeon/dp/B00B0CDEXW; http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/WomeninAMEDD/WACCh31healthmedical.htm; http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/223563;

Dr. Marion Loizeaux: http://www.awm.lee.army.mil/pdfs_docs/STEM%20Women-Army%20Women’s%20Museum.pdf (see pg. 14); http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19431019&id=pKkWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EyMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4034,1571595; http://www.smcaf.org/History.htm#medical

Dr. Jane Liebfried: http://www.mocavo.com/Iatrian-Womens-Medical-College-of-Pennsylvania-1964-Volume-1964/692278/43, (bottom right)

Dr. Elizabeth Fletcher: http://hrcdigitalcoll.uams.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/uw/id/351/rec/17

Women_DrMrgrtJaneway_1940s_NYT87421244

Historian, Veterans Health Administration

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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