Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians

Programming Ideas

REQUIREMENTS: Minimum requirements for host libraries include an opening reception for "Changing the Face of Medicine" and a minimum of two free public programs (one may be combined with the reception) featuring a lecture/discussion or panel by qualified speakers focusing on exhibition themes. Speakers may be physicians, historians, educators, public health experts, and others. Programs about women in leadership roles in medicine, and programs that inspire young people of all backgrounds to pursue careers in medicine are especially encouraged.

For adults

Libraries are encouraged to invite women physicians featured in the Local Legends audiovisual section of the exhibition and other women physicians to participate in public programs. The NLM also suggests the following program topics:

  • Breaking down barriers of racism and sexism in medicine.

  • Providing opportunities to other women physicians as mentors, teachers, and employers.

  • Confronting glass ceilings and creating opportunities by working in developing fields or forging new specialties.

  • Making breakthrough discoveries.

  • Bringing different perspectives to the profession, highlighting issues such as women's health and the connections between poverty and illness.

  • Focusing on the underrepresentation of women and minorities in medicine at the highest levels of the profession.

  • Making contributions to the well-being of communities at home and around the world by taking a broad view of the responsibilities of physicians.

  • Working for change in medical schools and throughout the profession to provide equity in salary levels and career advancement.

  • Serving as role models for a widely diverse group of young people beginning their careers today.

Other ideas:

  • Reading and/or viewing and discussion programs. Sponsor a series of book discussions about books written by women physicians (see book list in Resources Section), or a series of films about women in medicine (see film information in Resources Section).

  • Dr.Peter E. Dans of Johns Hopkins University has researched and written about women physicians in film. Dr. Dans lectures on "Women Doctors in the Movies: Where Are They?" This entertaining article talks about his research on physicians in film

  • Present a program about medical devices or techniques invented by women physicians and researchers.

  • Compare the cultural climate in the U.S. regarding the status and responsibilities of women and how it has changed in the last century. How has this affected medicine?

  • Use the 19th century, early 20th century, or later 20th century as a focus for a series of programs on the era's medical education, medical practices, and how women were faring in medicine at the time -- perhaps in your own institution or in your region.

  • Ask an experienced speaker or actor to read from the memoirs of women physicians.

  • Focus on a women physician from your area, either historical or contemporary, and trace her education and career in medicine.

Programs with students and schools:

  • With a lead teacher or teachers, sponsor a Changing the Face of Medicine curriculum workshop for teachers in your area.
    Use curriculum materials and lesson plans from the exhibition web site at
    (Click on "Resources," then "Lesson Plans"; also click on "Activities.")

  • Ask local women physicians to contribute their ideas and expertise to planning some programs and activities for students and younger people.

  • Encourage teachers at local schools to use themes from the exhibit in the curriculum during the exhibition. Send them printouts of lesson plans from the web site.

  • Sponsor a special viewing of the exhibition for teachers only.

  • Ask women physicians to meet one on one with students to speak about their education and experiences.

  • Ask a local hospital or medical school to hold a "Junior Medical School" program at the library or in schools.