Dr Myra Mackenzie
13 April 1876 - 27 October 1957
Dr Myra Mackenzie graduated MB ChB in 1900, Aberdeen’s first female graduate in medicine. She was an able, committed doctor whose life exemplifies the seismic changes in Society due to World War 1. From 1892 there was no longer a legal barrier preventing women from studying at University. The quality of the staff and the curriculum was outstanding. Yet she received unwelcome attention on many occasions from matriculation through to graduation. Her early career was a succession of posts (listed below) which provided invaluable experience. There must have been an assumption that no further promotion was possible. Once hostilities commenced, so many doctors were required for the armed forces that female doctors were temporarily promoted.
The formation of the Scottish Women’s Hospital ( SWH) and the admirable work of the Units in difficult situations changed the perceptions of the profession and rekindled the ambition of many women. Dr Mackenzie’s wartime experience can be gleaned from the pages of a memoir by Dr Isabel Hutton, the chief medical officer of a SWH unit which moved from Ostrovo, Greece into Serbia. In dangerous circumstances, Dr Mackenzie, as Assistant Medical Officer, treated soldiers and civilians. Dr Mackenzie’s abilities as an anaesthetist and physician are described in Dr Hutton’s book. As the staff in the Scottish Women’s Hospital were not part of the British Army, they were not eligible for medals. It is probable that Dr Mackenzie was honoured by the Serbian authorities. After their service with the SWH in Serbia both women worked with Lady Muriel Paget’s Child Welfare Scheme in the Crimea.
Returning to the UK, Dr Mackenzie developed an interest in Psychiatry and worked at The Lawn Psychiatric Hospital in Lincoln, first as Assistant Medical Officer then for eight years as Medical Superintendent. She retired in January 1941. Her enlightened views are demonstrated in the Annual Reports summarised in newspaper articles.
The Aberdeen University Review (1957-8) marked the death of the first lady to graduate in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.
"With a Woman’s Unit in Serbia, Salonika and Sebastopol" by I Emslie Hutton 1928 Williams and Norgate Ltd, London
House Physician and Surgeon - Royal Aberdeen Hospital for Sick Children (November 1900 - May 1901)
House Surgeon - Sick Children’s Hospital, Sheffield
Clinical Assistant - West Riding Asylum
Resident MO Dispensary for Women and Children, Rotherhithe
Resident Medical Officer - Bucknall Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent
Assistant Medical Officer for the County Borough of Hanley, Staffordshire
School Medical Inspector for County - Staffordshire (by 1909)
Later acting Chief Tuberculosis Officer - Mid Staffordshire
Assistant Medical Officer - Scottish Women’s Hospital, Macedonia and Serbia (March1918 - October 1919)
Locum Assistant Medical Officer - The Lawn Psychiatric Hospital, Lincoln (December 1925)
Assistant Medical Officer - The Lawn Psychiatric Hospital, Lincoln (March 1926)
Medical Superintendent - The Lawn Psychiatric Hospital, Lincoln (April 1933 - April 1941)
Biography prepared from the nomination made by Dr M I White to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.