Physician Vera Schectman (1890-1971) dedicated her professional life to serving inner-city women. A Russian immigrant who landed in Newark in 1906, Schectman entered the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at the age of 18. She graduated in four years with a class of about 30 women and directly began her work at Newark’s Beth Israel Hospital as its first female intern. In addition to her work on the hospital staff, Schectman became a member of the Committee of Public Health Education in Newark and traveled around the city giving sex education talks to groups of women. She spoke Yiddish, Polish, German, French and Italian, in addition to Russian and English, and was thereby able to communicate effectively with many of the newly arrived immigrant women.
Over the course of her long medical career, Schectman dedicated her practice to inner-city women and charged them modest fees or waived fees altogether. She often paid for prescriptions herself if necessary and offered her home to mothers in labor in order to save them hospital costs.