The First Batch of Female Chinese Overseas Students
In the 1880s, the first batch of female Chinese students began to study in the United States. Research records show that the first group of them returned to China as physicians.
In 1885, female Chinese physician Jin Yamei (1864-1934) finished her medical training in New York. She interned at hospitals in New York, Washington and Florida after graduation. She was engaged in the emerging research on the use of microscopes in medical science and in 1887 she released a paper titled Research on the Function of Microscope in the New York Medical Journal.
Despite Jin's stable and well-paid job in the U.S., she returned to China at the end of 1888, hoping to help more Chinese patients who were struggling with poverty and underdeveloped medical technologies in China at the time.
At first, Jin worked for a missionary hospital in southeast China's Xiamen. She got married in 1894 but got divorced ten years after. Tragically, her only son died in the First World War.
In 1907, Jin went to north China's Tianjin Municipality and became president of Beiyang Women's Hospital, the first public women's hospital in Chinese history.
In the course of her work, Jin realized that China urgently needed more skilled medical workers. She persuaded Yuan Shikai (1859-1916), a famous Chinese general and politician, to establish the first Chinese public nursing school in 1908.
Jin employed an English doctor as well as Zhong Maofang, the first Chinese female overseas student to major in nursing, to give lessons to her students. She also taught students the medical knowledge and experience she had gained overseas.
Jin also advocated women's liberation and encouraged her students to participate in social work. Some of her students went on to work in major hospitals in Tianjin, bringing the child delivery methods of the West to Chinese women.
Jin took active part in various social charity activities and contributed significantly to the development of education and rural health. She and other volunteers regularly worked in orphanages and raised money for the orphans.
In 1933, Jin rented out a room to a Czechoslovakian student named Jaroslav Prusek who came to China to conduct academic research. He later became a sinologist. Prusek wrote in his book My Sister China that Jin treated him like he was her son and was very understanding when he could not pay the rent because he fell sick and had to pay for his medical bills.
The same year she took in Prusek, Jin contracted pneumonia. When it became apparent that her condition was becoming more and more serious, she donated her assets to Yenching University and over 150 foreign books to Tianjin Muzhai School.
Jin died in 1934 at the age of 70. The famous American doctor J. P. Maxwell, who had extensive experience working with her, praised her excellence and spoke highly of her lifelong contributions to medical advancements in China.