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FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, May 9, 2011 -- The U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing has been ranked the best program of its kind in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report's 2012 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools. Located at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, the program rose to the top spot after coming in second in the magazine's past two consecutive reports in 2004 and 2008.

"This is an honor and gives us bragging rights," said Program Director Lt. Col. Joseph O'Sullivan, CRNA, PhD. "This ranking says Army healthcare is high quality and that we can go toe to toe with any other graduate program."

O'Sullivan believes the key reason his program consistently ranks high is because of its unique military mission.

"We have to have high standards because we prepare our students to work under wartime conditions, as well as during civil disorder, natural disasters and humanitarian missions," he explained.

The magazine's rankings, published in March, were based on peer feedback and assessment surveys sent to deans, faculty and administrators of the 113 accredited graduate anesthesia nursing programs during the fall of 2010. Respondents rated the academic quality of programs.

Only fully accredited programs in good standing during the survey period are ranked.

Deputy Surgeon General and Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Maj. Gen. Patricia Horoho, said this recognition proves the Army is preparing its next generation of anesthesia nurses well.

"As a registered nurse, I can affirm that the Army offers nurses professional development experiences above and beyond anything in the private sector. From being an integral part of the surgical team to commanding a health care system - in the Army, nurses have the opportunity to take their career as far as they want to go."

More than 40 civilian and active duty Army, Reserve and National Guard students are accepted into the program every year. Graduates receive a Master of Science in Nursing Anesthesia from Northeastern University School of Nursing. Starting next year, students will earn a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

All students become active duty officers Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNAs, upon graduation. A few Air Force and Veterans Administration personnel are also accepted into the program, who then go back to their perspective branches upon completion of the program.

Three other Army Health Care programs also ranked high in their disciplines in the report.

The U.S. Army-Baylor Doctoral Physical Therapy Program ranked No. 5 in the nation. The U.S. Army-Baylor Graduate Program in Health Administration came in at No. 11, and the Interservice Physician's Assistant Program was ranked No. 13.

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