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Burgner Was Area's Only Female Doctor

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Mark D. Smith, former Sarasota County Archivist
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Burgner Was Area's Only Female Doctor photo

Sarasota has attracted many people to its shoreline over the years. Some came for business opportunities and others for a different way of life. One who came and left her impression on the medical field in Sarasota was Dr. Blanche A. Burgner.

Dr. Burgner's career began in Chicago when she received her medical degree from the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery in 1910. She stated in a December 10, 1960 interview with the Sarasota Journal that her choice of medicine for a career was due to the fact that she was a direct descendant of Dr. John Warren of Boston who founded the Harvard Medical School.

After interning at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Chicago, she opened her office for general practice. She later became Associate Neurologist and Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics at the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery. In addition t her regular duties, Dr. Burgner was on the regular staff of Garfield Park Municipal Hospital, the Woman's and Children's Hospital and West Side Hospital, all in Chicago.

The physical demands of her jobs began to catch up with her. During World War I, Dr. Burgner was pressed into service due to the shortage of physicians in the country. The 1918-19 influenza epidemic that swept the country again placed heavy demands on her time.

By the mid-1920s, the stress of the past few years led her to a breakdown. In 1925, to rest and recuperate, Dr. Burgner moved to Sarasota. Joining her in Sarasota was her son, Roger Flory.

In 1931, Dr. Burgner passed the Florida State Board medical exams and went back to Chicago for refresher courses at Cook County Hospital in 1932. Completing her training in 1933, she returned to Sarasota to begin her practice.

Dr. Burgner was very unique to Sarasota. She was the only woman doctor in Sarasota, and for some time the only woman doctor on the West Coast of Florida. She quickly endeared herself to the community. She joined the Sarasota County Medical Society and was part of the host committee for the annual conference of the Florida Medical Society when they met in Sarasota.

Throughout her career, Dr. Burgner continued to build her practice. She gained further recognition when the Florida Business Women journal praised Dr. Burgner in November, 1935, by stating that “a comparatively new member in the Florida Federation, Blanche Burgner, M.D. has already won her way into the hearts of fellow citizens and club members in her chosen home at Sarasota.”

Dr. Burgner's work continued into the1960s. She always kept her license up-to-date and in 1960, she was honored by the Sarasota County Medical Society with a plaque paying tribute to her 50 years in the medical profession. She died in 1968 at the age of 94.