Women have always made it their responsibility to tend to the health and wellbeing of others. Before mothers were taking their youngsters to a dentist office and to their family doctor, it was frequently up to a healer to aid with illnesses and injuries. Up until very recently in the span of history it was actually very difficult for women to study medicine formally in school the way that a man could. But that does not mean that they did not have a great influence on the practice over the years.
It is said that the first record of a physician in historical documents was actually in reference to a woman. Agamede was said to be a healer in Ancient Greece and was written about in a document by Homer. While we still are more used to seeing men working in cosmetic dentistry and as surgeons, there have actually been some examples of women working in the medical profession from this time forward. One of the women who made a significant contribution to medical research in her time was the abbess Hildegard of Bingen. She lived during the 12th century and was considered Germany's first doctor.
In the same time women were not formally allowed to study in most universities on any subject. But at the University of Bologna women were allowed to attend lectures right from the time that the institution opened in 1088. Italy was known throughout the next couple of centuries for providing women with medical education. Doratea Bucca was an Italian woman who worked at the University of Bologna for forty years beginning in 1390. There continued to be women in increasing numbers all the way up to the time when practitioners with specialties started to exist.
In the 19th and 20th century women's main contribution to medicine was mostly in the allied fields as such things as nurses and midwives. You will still see a number of people working in these professions in your yoga class or living in the same building as you, and not just women any longer. Women also continue to do a significant amount of research in the medical fields as well as others. From working as a lawyer at a big Hamilton ON law firm for instance, to looking for potential markers that could help one day to cure cancer. The first women to be given Medical Doctorates were mostly in the 18th century and now about one third of the graduates of medical programs are women.