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Isabella Pringle

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Died  1963

Isabella (Ella) Pringle (1876–1963) was the first female Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE). She was elected to the Fellowship in 1929. Pringle practised as a medical missionary in Manchuria before a pioneering career in child health.


Isabella Pringle was born on 1 December 1876 in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was born a few years after Sophia Jex-Blake and others had won permission for women to matriculate at the University of Edinburgh. Pringle had been employed in a few academic secretarial jobs before she was able to attended university classes. In 1909 she graduated MBChB at the age of 33. After this she worked as a resident doctor and then travelled to Manchuria to work as a medical missionary until 1916. She returned to Edinburgh to undertake further residencies at the Royal Infirmary and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, making these choices through a combination of ill health and a developing interest in maternity and child welfare. She passed the Scottish Diploma of Paediatric Health (DPH) examinations, then took a position in Paisley heading the new maternity and child welfare scheme.

The RCPE made changes to their charter which came into effect in 1920, clearing the way for Pringle to complete her MD in 1921. In 1925 she was able to enter the examinations for membership of the RCPE which she passed. She then moved to Edinburgh where she became senior assistant medical officer in the maternity and child welfare service of the City Corporation. She became the first female Fellow of the RCPE in 1929.

She died on 27 May 1963.


Isabella Pringle Wikipedia