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The Virginia Apgar Papers

Letter from Virginia Apgar to Allen O. Whipple pdf (187,666 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Virginia Apgar to Allen O. Whipple
In 1937, after nearly a year's residency training in anesthesiology, Apgar was invited back to Columbia-Presbyterian (where she had done her surgery internship) to set up and head a new division of anesthesia there. In this letter, she outlined her plan for the division to Whipple, director of the department of surgery.
NOTE: Handwritten text at top of first page illegible in original.
Number of Image Pages:
5 (187,666 Bytes)
1937-11-29 (November 29, 1937)
Apgar, Virginia
Whipple, Allen O.
Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Presbyterian Hospital
Original Repository: Mount Holyoke College. Archives and Special Collections. Virginia Apgar Papers [MS 0504]
Reproduced with permission of Peter A. Apgar.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Exhibit Category:
Establishing a New Specialty, 1938-1949
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 2
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence 1925-1974
Folder: 1935-1937
November 29, 1937
My dear Doctor Whipple:
I am submitting a tentative outline for the organization and functions of a Division of Anesthesia under the Department of Surgery at the Presbyterian Hospital, as suggested by you earlier this month.
This letter is also to confirm our conversation of November tenth.
It has been demonstrated to me that nothing can be lost and a great deal gained in starting such a Division, by keeping a duplicate written record of various pertinent conversations, criticisms and their remedies, and suggestions received. For a time at least I shall give the method a trial.
The following subjects were discussed and tentative conclusions drawn that:
1. Some reference to Anesthesia would be made under my name in the next medical school Catalogue, preferably Director of Anesthesia,
2. At present it seems wiser to organize a Division of Anesthesia under the Department of Surgery rather than a Department of Anesthesia,
3. Clinical anesthesia will be the first emphasis of the new Division. It is possible that anesthetists already trained may be called upon temporarily to assist in clinical anesthesia before the residencies are definitely established,
4. The teaching program for undergraduate students will begin on September 1, 1938, if possible, with lectures to third year students and practical work for fourth year students. The most important aim in teaching will be to equip the student to give the simplest type of anesthesia safely: open drop ether anesthesia, and to show the important relationship of anesthesia to other branches of medicine.
5. Residencies will be established as the need for medical anesthesia is seen by the surgeons.
6. Research work will be started after the teaching program is under way. The present trend of Research in the Department of Surgery was discussed so that problems in Anesthesia may be correlated with it.
7. The income for the Division will be roughly ten percent of the surgeon's fee, for all anesthesia given by Medical Anesthetists.
8. From this income, all expenditures for the department will be drawn: salaries, equipment, etc.
9. The, average salary for a similar position elsewhere ranges from $5000.00 to $10,000.00. It did not appear unreasonable for me to expect the former figure mentioned as a beginning salary.
10. Every effort will be made to keep Miss Penland's and Miss Justus's positions open as long as they wish to fill them.
11. It is imperative to replace Dr. Buchanan and Dr. Wood with more active Consultants in Anesthesia.
12. A vacation from January l, 1938 to January 15, 1938 is in order.
You may be assured that it will be my kindly appreciation if you will advise me of any misinterpretation that I may have expressed in the contents of this letter.
Very sincerely yours,
Virginia Apgar, M.D.
Tentative Ultimate Organization
Division of Anesthesia, Department of Surgery
Functions of Division of Anesthesia
Tentative Financial Statement
Division of Anesthesia
Income. Sliding Seale for Private patient
A. Salaries
Director $8,000
Assistant Director 5,000
10 Residents @ $600 - 6,000 plus maintenance
1 Secretary 1,500
Total - $20,500*
B. Research
C. Books and Magazines
D. Equipment
E. Travel Fund
*Present Budget 14 nurse Anesthetists - $19,200
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