ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Tuesday marks the beginning of Women's History Month and according to the latest census data, at 166.6 million, women make up more than half of the U.S. population.

What You Need To Know

  •  UCF's College of Medicine opened its doors 13 years ago

  •  Since then, the school has produced 847 physicians

  • Of those, 417 have been women

But when it comes to medicine, only 36% of registered physicians in this country are female, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards.

Many are working to close that gap, especially the dean of the University of Central Florida's College of Medicine, who has felt the effect’s firsthand, being one of the only women in her class at Harvard Medical School.

“You know, some professors would say, 'Well, you’re taking the place of a man — someday you will just have babies and you won’t practice, you are a waste of time,' ” Dean Dr. Deborah German said. “I mean that happened, but I knew better so it did not bother me.”

But now things are different, with women increasingly applying and being accepted to medical school. Over the past 13 years, women have consistently made up half of UCF’s medical school, something of which German is very proud. She took Spectrum News 13 inside the cutting-edge university and explained why she thinks the future is looking bright for women in medicine.

German always knew she wanted to be a doctor. Despite facing many obstacles — like being a child of immigrants and a woman trailblazing her way through Harvard — she knew she could be a good doctor. 

Every year on their first day of class, she works with new students to compile a list of words that describe a good doctor. Those words stay on a blackboard in the school’s rotunda where everyone who passes through the doors can read them for the remainder of the year. 

“This is their contract with me, their professors, each other and the community to become this doctor,” German said. “That is their goal.”

Since 2009, with German at the helm. UCF College of Medicine has graduated 847 physicians — 417 of them were women.

German always wanted to teach others, too — leading her to her role as the founding dean of UCF's medical school, where research is a top priority.

“It is not something every medical school does,” she said.  

She made it so all medical students that walk her halls complete a two-year research project. The work helps them create new medical knowledge, advance medicine and makes UCF a destination for research and innovation.

“What I am seeing is somebody who learned how to ask questions and find the answers,” German said as she reviewed a student’s project.

A rheumatologist by trade, German built UCF's medical school from the ground up, breaking molds and opening doors for new ideas of what medical school should look like by creating things like a library that is almost completely digitized.

“Students have information anywhere, any time, any device," she said. "And prior to this, a student would see a patient, and they would need to go to the library and physically sit there and read about it and maybe stay in the library until two or three in the morning."

While German has climbed the ladder of medicine, she remains hyper focused on the future — one women doctors will help create. 

“There is a photograph of every class at their white coat ceremony," German said.

It is her legacy to leave the care of Floridians in equitable and capable hands.

“I remember when I first came here and we had one picture on the wall and every year we would add a picture, and I remember thinking how exciting it would be when I had the row completely filled," German said. "And now, all of these young men and women have become physicians because UCF built this medical school."