The History of the Mayo Clinic Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine


The Mayo Clinic Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine was officially formed on April 1, 1924. In its first century, the department has played pivotal roles in a variety of important developments that have advanced the specialty of anesthesiology. These include:

  • Dedicated nurses at Mayo Clinic who delivered anesthesia in the 1890s, starting the field of nurse anesthesia
  • Early trials that led to the use of sodium pentothal
  • Innovations such as the nation’s first blood bank and postoperative intensive care unit
  • Creation of the intravenous catheter
  • Training of “90-day wonders,” physicians trained in anesthesiology during World War II, many of whom became major leaders of the specialty
  • Co-founding and leadership of specialty organizations such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Board of Anesthesiology
This section of the History and Heritage website will provide a spectrum of stories, statistics, and other information that will describe the first century of the anesthesiology department’s impact on the evolving specialty of anesthesiology, as well as its remarkable start and stories of the nurse anesthetists who played such as pivotal role in improving the care of surgical patients.

Upcoming Events

During the anniversary year of the Centennial of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine from April of 2024 to April of 2025, there will be a variety of events and activities. Some of these events will include:

  • A gala celebration dinner.
  • A series of visiting professors in Rochester, Jacksonville, and Scottsdale who will speak about the history of the department and its impact on the specialty.
  • A special session on Mayo Clinic at the 2024 Anesthesia History Association’s annual meeting and co-hosting the association’s 2025 annual meeting in Rochester.
  • Two department-specific presentations in the series of dinners sponsored by Mayo Clinic’s Bruce Fye Center for History of Medicine.

Many more events and activities will be announced, and the events listed above will be given specific dates as the Centennial Celebration approaches.

Centennial Celebration Weekly Updates

Through April of 2025, the Centennial Project Team will have weekly updates that will contain very brief descriptions of articles or vignettes that highlight the department’s development, remarkable personnel across the spectrum of the department (e.g., respiratory therapists, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists, scientists, and administrators), and contributions to the specialty’s advances and recognition.

Mayo Clinic Anesthesiology Centennial Celebration Updates:

(Click Updates to Read More)

February 22, 2024
February 15, 2024
February 8, 2024
February 1, 2024
January 25, 2024
January 25, 2024