In 1917 when William Stewart Halstead was establishing modern surgery, Margaret Boise, a nurse working closely with him was training nurses to give anesthesia and started the Johns Hopkins School of Nurse Anesthesia. As Alfred Blalock was performing the first Blalock-Taussig shunts on "Blue Babies" in 1944, it was Olive Berger the "Nurse in Charge" who gave the anesthesia and trained other nurses in the art of anesthesia. The Johns Hopkins School of Nurse Anesthesia closed in 1985 but nurse anesthetists have been administering anesthesia at Hopkins continuously for the past ninety-one years.
Olive Berger, Nurse Anesthetist, standing at the head of the
operating table, assists Dr. Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas during
ground-breaking blue baby cardiac surgery in 1945. (Click to enlarge)
Olive Louise Berger
Olive Louise Berger was born in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from the School of Nursing at Roosevelt Hospital in New York in 1920 and from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Anesthesiology in 1922. She was chief nurse anesthetist and director of the anesthesia school for nurses at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1931 until her retirement in 1969. Berger served as the first nurse to administer anesthesia during the famous "blue baby" operations performed by Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig in the 1940s. In 1952, she was made an instructor in anesthesia in the school of medicine.