This month is Women’s History Month, a time to honor the women who have shaped our society through their contributions. There have been many who have shaped the fields of geriatrics, gerontology, and nursing. Here, we shine a spotlight on three women who’ve made a profound impact in these areas.
Known as the American Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton provided medical supplies, wound care, and emotional support to soldiers during the American Civil War. After the war, she became an activist for both women’s suffrage and for civil rights. In 1881, she became the inaugural president of the American Red Cross and established it as an organization that not only provided aid during times of war but also during other events like natural disasters.
Following a successful career in psychology, Lillien Jane Martin became an avid gerontological psychologist after experiencing ageism from her peers. She aimed to prove that being a woman and being older does not mean you become a burden and cannot contribute to society. Through her studies on aging, Dr. Martin founded the Old Age Counseling Center in 1943, which assessed for physical and mental declines, and helped plan for the lifestyle the older adult wanted.
Marjory Warren is seen as the founder of geriatric medicine. She emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary care and the need to treat the whole patient. She pushed for assessing older adults before admitting them to care facilities and for using a single system across care settings for documentation. Dr. Warren’s publishings on the need for a specialized field in geriatrics led to the field’s recognition by the National Health Service in the 1950s.