Davitt Felder earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1953 where he also completed an internship in surgery. In the 1950s, he was assigned to the general surgical services at the University of Minnesota Hospital, Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, and Minneapolis General Hospital. He spent most of his career in private surgical practice. In the 1960s, he was a founding member of the Northern Association for Medical Education, which led efforts to establish a second medical school in St. Paul.
Davitt Felder discusses his background and provides an overview of his career. He describes why he went into medicine and surgery; his decision to enter private practice; and his decision to retire. He discusses at length the establishment of the Northern Association for Medical Education and the organization's attempt to establish a medical school in St. Paul. He describes his work in vascular surgery and the establishment of the Midwestern Board for Medical and Allied Education. He discusses the relationship between Minneapolis and St. Paul private physicians and the University of Minnesota; the private practice issue at the University of Minnesota; and Robert Howard, Owen Wangensteen, Walter Lillehei, Michael E DeBakey; the relationship between the Surgery Department and other clinical departments; and his work with the Health Care Financing Administration.
Davitt Felder was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and graduated in 1938. He then went to Yale Medical School and graduated with his MD in 1942. He interned at the University of Minnesota in surgery. After nine months of his internship, he was activated in the Navy and spent the next three years in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, he took a job at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and established a vascular laboratory there. He then returned to the University of Minnesota and became chief resident in the Department of Surgery under Owen Wangensteen. After finishing his chief residency in 1951, he was appointed as an instructor in the department of surgery and assigned to the general surgical services at the University Hospital, Anchor Hospital in St. Paul, and the Minneapolis General Hospital. In 1952, he was appointed to supervise the surgical teaching service at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul. In 1953, he earned his Ph.D. In 1953, he also went into private practice. He retired from practice in 1986.