The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News

Nov. 11, 2005

UI Medical History Lecture Reveals Pioneer Nurse-Anesthetist

Nancy Harris, a doctoral student in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, will speak on "Alice Magaw: Pioneer Nurse and Anesthetist" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 in Room 401 of the UI Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The lecture is part of a series of presentations sponsored by the UI History of Medicine Society.

Harris will discuss how nurses became involved in anesthesia and Alice Magaw's role in this change. Before 1900, nurses were occasionally called upon to deliver anesthesia. William Worrell Mayo, father of Drs. Charles and William Mayo, is credited with the decision to use nurses routinely as anesthetists. The Mayo doctors, advocates of specialization, selected qualified nurses and trained them in the administration of anesthetics.

Magaw delivered anesthesia to patients of the Mayo doctors from 1893 to 1908 at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn. She excelled at clinical anesthesia and expanded her practice into research, authorship, mentorship, teaching and patient advocacy.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Ed Holtum at 319-335-9154 or

For directions to Hardin Library and information on parking, visit

For more information about the UI History of Medicine Society lecture series, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660

PROGRAM CONTACT: Susan Lawrence, UI associate professor of history, UI History of Medicine Society, 319-353-4681,