Air Force women's history: First commissioned female physician

  • Published
  • Air Force Medical Service History Office

On March 14, 1951, Capt. (Dr.) Dorothy Armstrong Elias became the first woman physician sworn into the Air Force and now a part of women's history month.

The commissioning ceremony took place at the Pentagon where Brig. Gen. Edward J. Kendricks, Director of Staffing and Education for the Air Force Medical Service, administered the oath.

Elias graduated from Tufts College in 1943 and Duke University School of Medicine in 1946. She had been an obstetrical and gynecological resident physician at Prince Georges' General Hospital in Maryland prior to entering the Air Force. Her first assignment in the Air Force landed her at Sampson Air Force Base, N.Y.

Dr. Elias left the Air Force in November 1952 after completing her term of enlistment.

There wasn't another female physician in the Air Force until 1962.