In honor of Women’s History Month, OptiMed acknowledges Susan Hayhurst as one of the first female pharmacists in the U.S.
Hayhurst was born in Pennsylvania, the daughter of Quakers. She attended school in Wilmington, Delaware and excelled in mathematics. Taking an interest in chemistry and physiology, she enrolled at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1857, Hayhurst served as a staff member and ran its pharmaceutical department for many years.
In 1876, Hayhurst became the head of the pharmaceutical department at the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia. To broaden her knowledge of the subject, she began attending lectures at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. It was rare for the college to admit women and Hayhurst was the only woman in her class of 150. The college administration did not offer any resistance, however, and granted her a diploma in pharmacy when she completed her courses in 1883 at the age of 63.
Hayhurst remained in her post at the pharmaceutical department of the Woman’s Hospital for 33 years. She supervised the purchase and manufacture of supplies, assisted missionaries to foreign countries, and acted as mentor to 65 women pharmacists. She was a member of organizations such as the American Academy of Political and Social Science and Woman’s Suffrage Society of Philadelphia. During the Civil War, she was chairman of the Committee of Supplies of the Pennsylvania Relief Association.
Hayhurst died in Philadelphia on August 7, 1909, after an illness. The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy held a memorial service in her honor on November 15, 1910 and commissioned a painting of her to be hung in its museum.