She Shattered All Notions of Who A Doctor Should Be

June 27, 2017

Before Lillian B. Mueller, Methodist Hospital was a hospital full of doctors – male doctors. Every last one of them.

But on a usual day in 1910 that would turn historic for Methodist, Dr. Mueller became the first female physician to practice at the hospital.

She was young and freshly-graduated from the IU School of Medicine. She was an anesthesiologist, who also practiced as an otolaryngologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist. She made her mark as a medical trailblazer, introducing the use of gas anesthesia at Methodist.

This was a decade before women had the right to vote in the United States. This was a time when most women weren’t in the workforce, but at home being mothers and wives. Dr. Mueller broke all those barriers.

In an issue of the “Indianapolis Medical Journal,” filled with stories of the accomplishments of men, Dr. Mueller is listed among those male doctors: “Dr. Lillian B. Mueller, anesthetist at the Methodist Hospital has returned from a four months’ visit to hospitals in New York,” the article reads.

While at Methodist, Dr. Mueller became the first secretary of the section on anesthesia of the Indiana State Medical Association in 1934. She made newspaper headlines six years later when she left Methodist to take a position as head of anesthesiology for City Hospital in Indianapolis.

The “Indianapolis Star” wrote an article on her departure from Methodist, covering a dinner thrown by the hospital staff honoring Dr. Mueller for her work at the hospital.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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