When Harriet Hall graduated from medical school in 1970 and entered the Air Force, she was in a distinct minority. As the second woman ever to do an Air Force internship, she had to fight for acceptance. Even a patient’s 3 year old daughter proclaimed, “Oh, Daddy! That’s not a doctor, that’s a lady.” She was refused a residency, paid less than her male counterparts, couldn’t live on base, and couldn’t claim her husband as a dependent because he wasn’t a wife. After six years as a general medical officer in Franco’s Spain, she became a family practice specialist and a flight surgeon, doing everything from delivering babies to flying a B-52. She earned her pilot’s license despite being told “Women aren’t supposed to fly,” and eventually retired from the Air Force as a full colonel. She is witness to an era when society was beginning to accept women in traditionally male jobs but didn’t entirely like the idea yet. A somewhat warped sense of humor kept her afloat, and it spices the stories she tells about her own experiences and the patients and colleagues she encountered.
Science-Based Medicine posts off and on for years now, often sharing a laugh or commiserating about some of the tragic subject matter (like today’s post, Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child Protection). She’s an amazing writer and person: