Today, March 11, is the first-ever Canadian Women Physicians Day, a day designated to honor women’s achievements in medicine. It also marks a significant milestone: on March 11, 1875, Dr. Jennie Trout became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada.
We have come a long way since she earned the right to call herself a physician.
Women now make up 43 per cent of Canada’s physician workforce, a statistic made possible by decades of battles to break into what was once a male-dominated field. As Canadian medical schools now report a nearly even split of female and male medical students, it is possible that by 2030 half of our country’s physicians will be women.
I entered medical school at a time when women were in the minority. Without the encouragement of my father — who had no doubt in my ability to become a doctor — I may not have ended up where I am today. One of the most exciting parts of my career continues to be meeting and mentoring the remarkable women who are changing medicine for the better.
While we remember the trailblazers who paved the way for us, it is important that we also recognize that our work is not done. Women physicians still face challenges — whether it be pay inequity, harassment and bias, or exclusion, women physicians continue to face many hurdles.
It is essential that we continue to champion women physicians, break down discriminatory barriers and work towards a fully equitable future.
Dr. Ann Collins