Until We Are Tested: Lessons Learned from Exploring the History of Women in Medicine Through Literary Narrative

October 8, 2018 -
5:00pm to 6:30pm

Abstract: Throughout history, women have faced great challenges in their pursuit of gaining a place at the table in the field of medicine. Such struggles also led these women who persisted to apply their knowledge and skills in creative and innovative ways. Medical pioneer Elizabeth Blackwell often told her students, “None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested.” Ami McKay’s first two novels, The Birth House and The Virgin Cure tell the stories of two such women—a Canadian midwife called upon to assist in the relief effort after the Halifax Explosion during WWI, and a female physician practicing on the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1870s. The protagonists of both works are based on real women who helped change the narratives of women in medicine by working in spaces male practitioners largely shunned. Their efforts to administer care to at-risk communities in times of great hardship parallel similar situations faced by healthcare practitioners today. Ms. McKay’s discussion will include brief readings from her work as well as anecdotes from her research accompanied by historical images that informed her writing.


Medical Humanities Mondays Lecture

Location and Address

602 Cathedral of Learning