Posted on August 2019 By Jamie Southwell
She’s a pioneer in the world of medical history, Louisa pathed the way for a lot of today’s females in the healthcare practice. At a time where it wasn’t widely accepted that women were either equally or even more qualified than men in areas of work, the medical heroine managed the overcome society’s limitations and break down the stigma through proving her talent as a surgeon.
Louisa Aldrich-Blake was born in 1865 on the 15th of August, in Chingford Essex and raised in Welsh Bicknor. She began her adventure by studying at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and by 1894 she had graduated from the London School of Medicine for Women with first-class honours, Bachelors of Science, Bachelors of Medicine, and a medical degree. This wasn’t the end of her education though, as she received her Medical Doctorate from the University of London in the same year, then finished by getting her Masters of Surgery the following year, making her the first British Woman to ever receive this qualification.
Now was her time, she was appointed as an Assistant Surgeon at the New Hospital for Women and Children in London. Quickly working her way up the ladder, she landed the role of Senior Surgeon whilst simultaneously working at the Royal Free Hospital. Dr. Aldrich-Blake was the first Woman to ever hold the post of surgical registrar and anaesthetist, in 1895.
When the first world war struck, Louisa devoted her time assisting military hospitals around France between 1914-1916. Whilst there her patients gave her the nickname “Madame la Générale”. In addition to her incredible acts, she also wrote to all the female clinician on the General Medical Register and helped with organising overseas postings for people who replied volunteering their services.
Later in her life is when Aldrich would spend her time researching and innovating the treatments of cervical and rectal cancers. During the same time, she was leading the British Surgeons in the Wertheim operation for carcinoma of the cervix.
To honour her during her time alive, in 1914 she was appointed Dean at her former school, London School of Medicine for Women. Before her death from cancer in 1925, she became Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake after being awarded her well-deserved DBE.
To this day, we still appreciate the amazing achievements and breakthroughs in equal rights and medicine brought on through the challenges and struggles that she overcame.