“When I was in medical school in the 1940s, there was a quota system. No more than a dozen women a year were supposed to graduate. Now you see in any graduating class at medical school that 50 percent or so are women. I'm most proud that in some small ways I've helped with that change.”
Harold Ford Jr.
“LEADER FOR WOMEN IN MEDICINE IN TENNESSEE”
When Evelyn Ogle was a medical student in Tennessee in the mid-1940s, she was the only woman in a class of 36. "It wasn't really tough as much as lonely. And the boys in the anatomy class were always trying to get me to blush," she recalls.
Blushing aside, Evelyn Ogle persisted and graduated to become a leader and an advocate for women in medicine in Tennessee, and a pioneer in the use of freestanding electroencephalography (EEG) laboratories. (Electroencephalography detects levels of electrical activity in the brain, measuring and recording normal electrical impulses and detecting abnormalities.)
Now retired after 50 years of service to the residents and institutions of Memphis, in 1992 Ogle had the distinction of being the first female elected president in the 116-year history of The Memphis Medical Society.
She began her career in Memphis with a rotating internship at St. Joseph Hospital, followed by a residency in pediatrics, also at St. Joseph, before establishing a pediatric practice in Corpus Christi, Texas. In 1957, she returned to Memphis to stay.
Nominated by Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN-9) as a Local Legend of Medicine, Ogle was president of the Southern Electroencephalography Society, secretary-treasurer of the Memphis Neuroscience Society, and chair of the Medical Society Foundation. She also served on the Tennessee Medical Foundation Board of Trustees.
As director of the EEG Laboratory at Methodist Hospitals of Memphis, she traveled extensively to hospitals in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee to expand services to underserved communities. At the time, EEG labs and equipment were uncommon, to be found only in the offices of neurosurgeons.
Of her abilities as a teacher and mentor, a colleague once wrote of Ogle: "Her wisdom, advice, and counsel on issues in medicine, particularly those affecting women have been invaluable. For many years she has personally taken medical students under her wing, opened her home to them, and nurtured them through their formative medical education years."
In addition to her medical trailblazing, Ogle was also a devoted community volunteer as a member of the United Way of Greater Memphis, the Epilepsy Foundation of West Tennessee and chairperson of the Methodist Hospitals Foundation. She remains active on the University of Tennessee College of Medicine's Alumni Council.
She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Living Award from the Methodist Hospitals Foundation in 1996, the Outstanding Physician Award from the Tennessee Medical Association in 1997, and three President's Awards from the Memphis Medical Society. A founder of the West Tennessee chapter of the American Medical Women's, in 1992 the Association recognized her with its Community Service Award.
Director, Electroencephalography (EEG) Laboratory, Methodist Hospitals of Memphis, Tennessee
Elected to Board of Trustees, Tennessee Medical Association
Elected First Woman President of the Memphis Medical Society, Tennessee
University of Tennessee, Health Science Center College of Medicine