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Anesthesiology. 2013 May;118(5):1019-27. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318286d0e2.

Military anesthesia trainees in WWII at the University of Wisconsin: their training, careers, and contributions.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.


The emerging medical specialty of anesthesiology experienced significant advances in the decade prior to World War II but had limited numbers of formally trained practitioners. With war looming, a subcommittee of the National Research Council, chaired by Ralph M. Waters, MD., was charged with ensuring sufficient numbers of anesthesiologists for military service. A 12-week course was developed to train military physicians at academic institutions across the country, including the Wisconsin General Hospital. A total of 17 officers were trained in Madison between September 1942 and December 1943. Notably, Virgil K. Stoelting, the future chair of anesthesiology at Indiana University, was a member of this group.A rigorous schedule of study and clinical work ensured the officers learned to administer anesthesia safely while using a variety of techniques. Their leadership and contributions in the military and after the war contributed significantly to the further growth of anesthesiology.

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