Here's What You Didn't Know About the UK's First Female Doctor

Born Margaret Ann Bulkley in the 1790s, the United Kingdom's first female doctor did not make history using the name she was given at birth. Instead, she came to be known as Dr. James Barry, the British Army surgeon.

During the eighteenth century, women were not allowed to attend college, which limited their career choices if they chose to work at all. Knowing this, Bulkley and her relatives "conspired to get her into medical school."

Determined to make her dream a reality, Bulkley disguised herself as James Barry (the name of her deceased uncle), and graduated from medical school in 1812.

By 1813, after having worked for several months at a hospital in London and passing the Royal College of Surgeons exam, Barry enlisted in the army as a surgeon.

"Serving in Europe, India, South Africa and Canada, [Barry] was promoted through the ranks to become inspector general in charge of military hospitals — the most senior medical position in the British Army," the Irish Examiner reported. 

While abroad, Barry "championed better food, sanitation and medical care for soldiers, prisoners and lepers" and, in 1826, even "performed one of the first successful Caesarean sections."

After 46 years of living as James Barry, Bulkley died of dysentery in 1865. It was not until her death that her true identity was discovered upon examination of her body.

Watch the video below to learn more about Bulkley:

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