Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Edyth H. Schoenrich M.D., M.P.H.
MSA SC 3520-14382

Biography:

Coordinating flexible public health graduate programs for working health professionals is just one example of the many endeavors Dr. Edyth H. Schoenrich has undertaken in her sixty year career.  Education has been, and continues to be, one of the benchmarks of Dr. Schoenrich's life, and her long tenure with The Johns Hopkins University attests to that fact.  Throughout her various professions over the years, which include clinician, clinical research scientist, public health administrator, faculty member, and academic advisor, Schoenrich has never wavered from her commitment to the health care field and educating future generations.  Her drive and unending passion for medicine, health, and learning are testament to her "full speed ahead" attitude, and as Sara Engram, writing for the Duke University Magazine, stated in 2003, "At eighty-three, she [Schoenrich] finds that the word 'retirement' has yet to enter her vocabulary."1 

Dr. Edyth Hull Schoenrich was born on September 9, 1919, in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her parents, Edwin John and Maud Mabel Kelly encouraged their daughter to pursue her education.  Her interest in medicine and science could be seen at an early age, when as a sixth-grader in Miss Hyde's nature-science classroom she marveled at the wonders of tadpoles growing into frogs and seeds evolving into sprouts.2   After graduating high school, Schoenrich entered Duke University in 1937 full of excitement to pursue her interests and further her education.  She received her BA from the University in 1941 and quickly enrolled at the University of Chicago, where she decided to pursue her master's degree in psychology.  It was here that she met her husband, Carlos Schoenrich, who was a doctoral candidate in the same program.  They married in 1942 and had two children, Lola and Olaf.3  Edyth Schoenrich applied to the medical school at the University of Chicago, a path rarely taken by women at that time.  When reflecting about this period in her life, Schoenrich stated, "It's not always a disadvantage to be a member of a minority group.  When I went to medical school, there were only three women in [my] class of 75.  One time, a professor asked a trick question and I gave the answer.  From then on, faculty would pass me in the hall and say, 'You must be the medical student who knew the answer to Dr. So-and-So's trick question.'  If one of the men had done it, they wouldn't have noticed."
4  She earned her M.D. from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1947.

After graduation, the Schoenrichs moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and established their new careers.  Carlos began a distinguished career in psychology and Edyth began her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  It was at this time that her long career with The Johns Hopkins University began.  While at Johns Hopkins Hospital Schoenrich worked first as an intern from 1948 to 1949.  As time went on she quickly moved up the ladder to assistant resident in medicine, from 1949 to 1950; fellow medicine, from 1950 to 1951; and finally as chief resident of the private wards from 1951 to 1952.   Her status as chief resident was rare for women at that time, so it was, in many ways, a pioneering step for women professionals.  With all her accomplisments, however, Dr. Schoenrich was not a stranger to sex discrimination in her field.  Describing one such case of discrimination, she states, "In the 60s I was up for a promotion, a very good post.  Then one of the doctors who would have made the decision told me, in essence, that I had all the qualifications except one--I was not a man.  I was hurt, but mostly I was very angry.  Later, though, it led to a whole new direction in my career and I've gotten philosophical about that.  The key to getting through this life is to be able to take something that looks like a disaster and make something positive out of it."5  She also worked at the Baltimore City Hospital as the assistant chief and acting chief of the department for chronic and community medicine from 1963 to 1966.
6   Dr. Schoenrich specialized in internal medicine and holds post-doctoral fellowships in oncology and hematology. 

Although Edyth Schoenrich enjoyed working in clinical practice and found it rewarding, she opted for a slight career change.  Schoenrich found that "after her children were born, she no longer seemed to need the emotional charge that comes when a patient grabs your hand and says, 'You saved my life.' "
7   In 1966, she began working with the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, serving as director of services to chronically ill and aging patients.  This position enabled her to be in charge of all adult preventative services in Maryland, including blood pressure, diabetes, truberculosis, cancer, and kidney diseases.8    This line of work appealed to Schoenrich because she had been dismayed at the number of seriously ill patients with preventable diseases who were admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, therefore, her services with the Department of Health would enable her to learn more about preventative medicine and public health.  In 1969, she entered the Bloomberg School at Johns Hopkins and earned her Master's Degree in Public Health in 1971.  Also, during her years with the Department of Health, Schoenrich was the director of two tuberculosis hospitals and three chronic disease rehabilitation hospitals operated by the State of Maryland.9

In 1974, the Bloomberg School of Public Health offered Schoenrich a professorship, which she eagerly accepted.  From 1974 to 1977, she was also the director of the Division of Public Health Administration, and was the senior associate dean of the school from 1977 to 1986.10   Schoenrich spent these years educating students and teaching courses in health policy and management.  Through her professorship Dr. Schoenrich has been a trailblazer in bringing a community-health perspective to medicine and a clinical perspective to public health.11  Beginning in 1986, Schoenrich was approached by the Bloomberg School to begin adapting the public health courses for full-time professionals interested in obtaining their MPH degree.  This program has revolutionized the Bloomberg School, making it more accessible to greater numbers of potential students.  It has also worked to better prepare students for the multi-faceted challenges they will face in the real world, such as strange new diseases and threats of bio-terrorism.  Schoenrich believes her latest pursuit brings her great rewards: "Some of my greatest gratification is related to assissting graduate students in the field of public health.  The younger men and women are the future, and the responsibility for the health and welfare of the communities in which they live and work will rest with them."12  Edyth Schoenrich's dedication to Johns Hopkins, public health, and education shine through in her career and will inspire generations to come.

Over the course of her career Dr. Schoenrich has received many awards and honors.  These include: the Stebbins medal from The Johns Hopkins University, 1989; Distinguised Medical Alumna award, 1997; and the William H. Welch Award from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  The Johns Hopkins University has also honored Schoenrich by establishing the Edyth H. Schoenrich Professorship in Preventative Medicine in 1996.  She has also been a member of numerous organizations including: lifetime member of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Societh, Alpha chapter at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; President of the National Society of Delta Omega, 1982; Alpha Omega Alpha, University of Chicago School of Medicine; Phi Beta Kappa, Duke University; member of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of Maryland, Baltimore City Medical Society; and a member of the Association of Teachers of Preventative Medicine.  Finally, Dr. Schoenrich has also served in various community organizations, which include: a trustee in the Friends Life Care Community, 1984; the Kennedy-Krieger Institute of Baltimore, 1985; the Visiting Nurses Association, 1990-95; and the Maryland Home and Community Care Foundation, 1995.  Edyth Schoenrich is also certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Preventative Medicine.13 

The extensive and varied career of Dr. Edyth H. Schoenrich is admirable, as is her unyielding commitment to her life's interests.  Though her career has shifted from a position of physician to that of an administrator, she still recognizes the importance in her work: "Though I'm sitting at a desk, I don't feel I'm into a routine.  And when I sit together with our faculty and students, I'm trying to encourage and nourish--to find new ways of looking at the same old material.  When I do that I feel like a sculptor."14  Whether it is educating her students in public health courses, designing programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, or hot-air balooning in the Swiss Alps with her husband, a favorite pastime, Schoenrich shows no indications of slowing down, but, rather, forges ahead to continue living life to its fullest.  In an interview for the Bloomberg School Schoenrich explained her philosophy on life: "You don't have to plan out your whole working life from beginning to end.  Just start out doing your thing.  Even if you don't know where you'll end up you can have an exciting life.  But never lose sight of your values.  You should have a purpose, a passion that drives you."15 Undoubtedly this is what has driven Schoenrich and it is what will continue to inspire others to come.

Endnotes:

1.  Engram, Sara. "The Doctor is Always In: Mini-Profile, Edyth Hull Schoenrich '41," Duke University Magazine, July-August 2003.  http://www.dukemagazine.duke.edu/dukemag/issues/070803/depmini-schoenrich.html.   return to text

2.  Ibid.   return to text

3.  "Edyth Hull Schoenrich," Biography Resource Center, 2005. http://galenet.galegroup.com.   return to text

4.  Birch, Kristi. "Wise Words," Johns Hopkins Public Health, the Magazine of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Spring 2005.  http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/Magazine/Wise_words/index.html.   return to text

5.  Hammett, Corinne F. "Woman M.D.: When Scrubbing Up Means Surgery, Not Dinner Dishes," Baltimore News-American, 7 October 1979.   return to text

6.  Biography Resource Center.   return to text

7.  Engram.  return to text

8.  "Faculty: Edyth Schoenrich," Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2005. http://faculty.jhsph.edu/?F=Edyth&L=Schoenrich.   return to text

9.  Ibid.   return to text

10.  Biography Resource Center.   return to text

11.  "Edyth H. Schoenrich Professorship in Preventative Medicine," Named Professorships, Deanships, and Directorships, The Johns Hopkins University, n.d.  http://webapps.jhu.edu/namedprofessorships/professorshipdetail.cfm?professorshipID=249.   return to text

12.  "Director of Part-Time Programs for Public Health Inducted into Maryland Women's Hall of Fame," Hopkins Happenings at the Montgomery County Campus, 28 April 2005.  http://www.mcc.jhu.edu/data/Newsletters/May%2005%20Web%20Version.pdf.   return to text

13.  Biography Resource Center.   return to text

14.  Rehert, Isaac. "Preventing Rather than Curing," The Baltimore Sun, 14 July 1977.   return to text

15.  Birch.   return to text


Biography written by 2005 summer intern Lauren Morton

Return to Dr. Edyth H. Schoenrich's Introductory Page


   


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