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OHSU Names Stephen Yermal Director of Nurse Anesthesia Program

Stephen J. Yermal, C.R.N.A., Ph.D., has been appointed as the new director of the OHSU Nurse Anesthesia Program, announced School of Nursing Interim Dean, Saundra Theis, R.N., Ph.D.

Yermal was previously the Director of the Graduate Nurse Anesthesia Program and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies in Florida. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing at Loyola University Chicago, his Masters of Science in Anesthesia Nurse Practitioner Program at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, and his Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, in Baltimore, MD.

"I am very pleased to be involved with leading this program at OHSU," said Yermal.

"The OHSU School of Nursing's Nurse Anesthesia Program will be the only fully integrated university-based school of nursing program affiliated with an academic health center in the Western United States. With Oregon's large rural demographic make-up and one of the lowest per capita ratios of C.R.N.A.s (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) in the nation, this program is well positioned to increase availability and delivery of vital anesthesia and resuscitative services to the people of Oregon and beyond."

Historically considered the first nursing specialty, nurses routinely administered anesthesia during the Civil War. The first school to teach the subject opened in Portland, Ore. in 1909. In 2006, 106 accredited nurse anesthesia programs were producing about 1,900 graduates a year nationwide.

But the number of graduates is not enough to fill the expanding need. Studies show that as the population of Baby Boomers surges and ages, working health care professionals are also leaving their fields resulting in a growing disparity between supply and demand. By 2010, one study notes that the nation will see an increase of 40 percent over 1990 in the demand for qualified nurse anesthetists.

To help better meet Oregon's growing need for anesthesia care services, OHSU launched the Nurse Anesthesia Program. The program admitted the first class in September 2006. This initial cohort is set to graduate in December 2008. "Our goal is to ensure that graduates are well-trained and eligible for national certification," said Yermal.

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and its only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), and trains an average of more than 2,000 health care professionals each year.

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