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 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. She traveled around the city giving sex education talks to groups of women. She spoke Yiddish, Polish, German, French and Italian, Russian and English. Because of this, she was able to communicate 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 to save them hospital costs.