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Dr. Helen Octavia Dickens

2023 Women’s History Month

31 Historical Women from Philly

Dr. Helen Octavia Dickens was an American physician, medical and social activist, health equity advocate, researcher, health administrator, and health educator. She was the first African American woman admitted to the American College of Surgeons in 1950, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Dickens worked at private practices and clinics, including the Aspiranto Health Home, founded by Dr. Virginia Alexander, and the Teen Clinic at The University of Pennsylvania, which she founded.

Strongly motivated to provide better healthcare to the African-American community, her jobs enabled Dickens to combat the racial and residential segregation integrated into medicine at the time.