Medical Student's Story Tells Progression of Women in Medicine

SMD Grad to Follow Trail Blazed by Grandmother, Mother

May 12, 2014

On Friday, 28-year-old Claire Melin will do her part to keep a rare family tradition alive.

Melin is among 97 medical students graduating from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD).   But Melin’s medical degree signifies something more.  Her grandmother and her mother are doctors too, an anomaly in a profession long dominated by men.  Their story, featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, is a timeline chronicling the recent history of women in medicine.

In the late 1940’s, Melin’s grandmother overcame overt prejudice to become one of three female medical students allowed into a class of 130 men at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.   She was criticized, by men and women, when she chose to practice after becoming a wife and mother.  Melin’s mother entered medical school in 1979, a time when more doors were opening for women in the profession – but sexual harassment and discriminatory conditions were still common.  About three decades later, in the hometown of women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, Melin will graduate with a class that is nearly half women.  She has not faced the biases her grandmother and mother did, and she expresses gratitude for trailblazers like them.

Melin’s mother, Nancy A. Young, M.D., will be “hooding” her daughter, an honor reserved for close relatives who are physicians, at the SMD commencement.

WHEN:  Friday, May 16 beginning at 4 p.m.

WHERE:  Kodak Hall at the Eastman School of Music, 60 Gibbs Street, Rochester

KEYNOTE ADDRESS:  U.S. Congressional Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28)

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman will be presenting Slaughter with a Presidential Proclamation at the ceremony.

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Julie Philipp
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