Paving the way for females in science and medicine

Happy National Women’s History Month!

To celebrate the untold women who have made strides in science and medicine—those who will forever be role models for generations of girls to come, let’s delve into a little of Rochester and Rochester Hills’ own history.

One of the area’s very own—Bertha Van Hoosen earns our spotlight this week.

Photo courtesy of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm archives.

(Which is also fitting that we highlight this female medicine mogul because the 2013 National Women’s History Month theme is “Women inspiring innovation through imagination: Celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”)

From early years, the insatiable curiosity of science lovers is unmistakable. And according to the records, Van Hoosen embodied this spark.

Venturing across the nation throughout her life, Van Hoosen helped women as an obstetrician, gynecologist and surgeon. But professional fields will never paint the full image of her impact.

The top highlights of her life that I find beyond intriguing include:

  • Nifty 50: Van Hoosen followed her adoration of medicine for more than 50 years. (And this was in the late 1800s and early 1900s! Not to mention, she lived to be 89 years old! Being born in the 1800s and living 89 years—that is a reputable feat in itself! Wish we could learn and share some of her health tips!)
  • Inventive by nature: Among developing several practices and surgical techniques—like the “buttonhole” appendectomy or implementing scopolamine morphine as a childbirth anesthetic—Van Hoosen was a mogul in fighting for equality of women in medicine. (She was also a strong advocate in the fight to ensure proper hygiene and surgical instrument sterilization to evade infection, according to Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.)
  • The American Medical Women’s Association: So naturally, one of her most influential gifts to science and medicine was when she pioneered the American Medical Women’s Association. The Association has been running since 1915 and acts as a way to connect, teach and inspire females in medicine. And AMWA is the only “multispecialty organization dedicated to advancing women in medicine and improving women’s health,” according to their website. (Learn more about the AMWA here: )

To discover more about Van Hoosen’s life, please find a full descriptive timeline here, compliments of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

And if you haven’t already seen this Huffington Post slideshow of the nation’s 50 most influential women in the world of health, be sure to check it out here.

Join the conversation

We won’t even attempt to enumerate the women who have or continue to make an impact in medicine or in the health and lives of others. So let’s be sure to share as many stories as possible!

Have you been inspired by a female—past or present—to surpass your goals? Whether it involves science or not, share your story with us!

Or can you name a former (but never forgotten) female medicine mogul from the Rochester area?

How about a notable woman who is you believe is making a difference in the world of healthcare right now?

Share with us by sending health reporter Jen Bucciarelli a note at

The Museum

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features the stories, people and events that have made our community an exceptional place to call home for 190 years.  Stop by for a visit!  We can host weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, and more!  How can we best serve you?

Visit the Museum’s website at or call 248-656-4663. You can also send them a note at

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at

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