Women as leaders

"You must learn to be cool, collected and quiet; to have presence of mind; rapid thought and action in the most trying circumstances. 

You must learn to have wise judgement in moments of great peril; you must train your tempers until you have complete control, for your temper will often be taxed by exasperating patients and their friends. 

You must learn never to betray indecision and worry, for, if you become fluttered and flurried, you will lose the confidence of your patients. Practice and experience will train you to have firmness and courage. 

Do not always look for gratitude, for sometimes when you are most deserving, you will get the least...There will be disappointments; your pet theory will be dashed to the ground; your most painstaking laborious work, unsuccessful; there will be cares, anxieties, failures which are very common to a professional life…Face trials with a smile, with head erect, and a calm exterior. 

If you are fighting for the right and for a true principle, be calm and sure and keep on until you win.”

- Dr. Ida S Scudder’s  Graduation Day address, in 1922, to her very first batch of 14 medical students, all of whom were women.

CMC's founder Ida Sophia Scudder, an extraordinary human being by any standards, held her students, all women from 1909 till 1947, to a very high standard of personal and professional conduct. And she had no doubts in her mind that they would be able to meet those standards - as individuals, as professionals and as the future healthcare leaders of the country.

The founder's living example as well as her conviction about this matter meant that, from the very beginning, women were automatically given great and burdensome responsibilities. This translated into immense opportunities for learning, growth and an awareness of the fact that courage along with sincerity and persistent hard work can nudge open any closed door.

Image: Padma Shri Dr. Mary Varghese, who was known as the 'Wheelchair Surgeon from Vellore'. Dr. Varghese is one of the best known women leaders and pioneers of CMC.

Ida Scudder was not the only role model for the women who were testing the waters of self-reliance and economic independence; the women who slowly learned to 'own' the respect they were starting to command from patients, their families and the larger society.

We remember and salute the many women who worked tirelessly for this institution, creating hitherto unimaginable opportunities for the women of this country.


Ten of the many remarkable women who made us who we are today

Apart from the ten, other women who have made outstanding contributions to our institution and shaped its destiny include Carol Jameson, Rachel Fillebrown, Jessie Findlay, Florence Nichols, Ida B Scudder, Valerie Major, Ruth Myers, Gwenda Lewis, Pauline King, Margaret Brand, Kamala Vytinlingam, Anna Jacob and Aleyamma Kuruvilla, to name just a few. 

It is no wonder then that in an institution that was built by women for women, equal pay and equal opportunities in every arena for women, including leadership, are a given today.

So much so that even with a stated commitment to the disadvantaged, the only conscious practice of positive discrimination that has been followed traditionally has been the allocation of a fixed number of undergraduate medical seats for women.

Image: Dr. Hilda Lazarus, the first Indian Principal and Director of CMC Vellore. 

And those who have received give to others...

A patient's story - How treatment at CMC helped Sruti to become a leader and a role model for the differently abled
Dr. Sruti Mohapatra is the Chief Executive of Swabhiman, based in Odisha, a nonprofit, cross disability organisation advocating for and serving persons with disabilities.

In this four-minute video, she talks about CMC's role in helping her to become a leader and a voice for differently abled people.

Sister Stories 

A 21-minute video, shot around the middle of the twentieth century, that highlights how CMC enabled women in the community to train and to develop careers.