Schuster, Norah Henriette

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Schuster, Norah Henriette

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  • Nicholls, Norah

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Born in Manchester 14 Jul 1892. Her father was physicist Arthur Schuster, who introduced Wilhelm Rontgen's discovery of X-rays in the UK; he gave public lectures on the subject using as illustrations X-rays taken of the hands and feet of Norah and her brother.

Norah enrolled as a medical student at the University of Manchester in 1911. In 1912, she became the first woman to take the pre-clinical course at Newham College, University of Cambridge, where she studied natural sciences and graduated in 1915.

In 1916 she worked as an unpaid assistant in the pathological laboratory at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. She qualified in medicine at the University of Manchester in 1918, and was appointed assistant pathologist at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, the first woman to be employed in a clinical role. She became a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1922.

She was employed at St George's from 1920, initially as an unpaid house physician to the neurologist James Collier, and was later employed as assistant pathologist as well as tutoring students and doing histology; she also worked in the Pathological Museum, including updating the specimen catalogues and performed post mortems until at least 1929 at St George's.

In 1924, she also worked at the Infants Hospital on Vincent Square, London, and was appointed pathologist at the Royal Chest Hospital in London in 1927. During the Second World War, she was recruited into the Emergency Medical Service, working at King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor, and worked as a consultant in Old Windsor, Maidenhead and Slough, but returned to the Royal Chest Hospital in 1943.

After the establishment of the NHS in 1948, she worked as a consultant at the Royal Chest Hospital until it was demolished in 1954. She was appointed the first female president of the Association of Clinical Pathologists in 1950; she was also one of the founders of the Royal College of Pathologists. From 1954 to 1959, she worked at the Pinewood Hospital in Wokingham, Berkshire, and retired in 1959.

She was interested in the history of medicine, and was the vice-president of the History of Medicine Society at the Royal Society of Medicine.

She married surgeon Marriott Fawckner Nicholls in 1925, but continued her professional practice using her maiden name. She died 14 March 1991. The History of Medicine Society awards an annual prize for a student in her memory.


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Nicholls, Marriott Fawckner (1898-1969)

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Pathology Museum (1843-)

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Schuster, Norah 'A Clinical Pathologist by Day' (1983); Archives and Special Collections, St George's, University of London; Wikipedia

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