Lin Qiaozhi came from an educated Christian family in the cosmopolitan treaty port city of Gulangyu in Fujian. Never married, she focused her education and career on saving the lives of mothers in childbirth, based at China’s premier medical school and hospital — Peking Union Medical School in Beijing.
Lin became the first woman hired as a resident physician in the PUMC hospital. In 1932, after she had served as a general resident physician for a year, PUMC sent her to Manchester Medical College and London Medical College’s Gynecologic and Obstetric Hospital as a visiting scholar, and the following year to Vienna. In 1939, Lin went to Chicago University Medical School to continue her research. (She used the name Lim Kah T’I for research publications.) After she finished her study in 1940, she was granted honorary membership in several U.S. scientific associations, but she turned down offers to remain in the United States.
Upon return to PUMC, Lin became the first woman in China to be appointed director of a hospital department of obstetrics and gynecology. Other “firsts” for women were to follow in the 1950s, when she was appointed vice chair of the Chinese Medical Association, director of the new Beijing Maternity Hospital, and a deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. She also was elected a representative to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In the 1970s, Lin served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and vice chairwoman of the National Women’s Federation.
Dr. Lin became well-known and loved by Chinese people, from Premier Zhou Enlai and his wife down to the poorest commoners, from the 1940s through several years of illness before her death in the early 1980s. In fact, she was called a “living Buddha” by a large number of women patients who received her care and treatment, many of whom named their babies for her. While Lin Qiaozhi’s devotion to her patients and brilliant medical skills were apparent to all, her lifelong Christian faith was largely unknown to most people, given the political situation of her time.
Photo Courtesy of the Gulangyu (Xiamen) Lin Qiaozhi Memorial.
- Guowei Wright, “Lin Qiaozhi: The Steady Pulse of a Quiet Faith,” Carol Lee Hamrin, ed., with Stacey Bieler, Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China (Eugene, OR., Wipf and Stock Publishers, Pickwick Publications, 2008).