Rose Yorsh with Kevin Land, principal of Gladstone Secondary School. (photo by Alix Bishop)
Local community member Rose Yorsh has been honored with a scholarship in her name by friends at the University Women’s Club at Hycroft. The scholarship benefits two students at Gladstone Secondary School who are pursuing nursing studies, which was Yorsh’s profession. Yorsh has enjoyed a remarkable career and was a pioneer for women in operating room nursing.
Graduating nursing in 1944 at Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton, Alta., Yorsh received post-graduate training in operating room technique. As a Jewish woman studying in a Catholic setting in the 1940s, she faced many challenges. For example, she received top marks, but publicly was listed at the bottom of the class. After Misercordia, she went on to the New York Hospital at Cornell, where she worked in the neurosurgery operating room. As part of her post-graduate training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, she worked under noted doctors Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig, who developed the Blalock-Taussig Shunt, a surgical procedure that has saved countless lives. She went on to head the cardiovascular and pulmonary surgery operating room at Beth Israel Hospital and, later, was asked to head the operating room at Montefiore Hospital. While back in Canada to make the decision, she met and married Dr. Ralph Yorsh in 1953.
After raising three children, Rose Yorsh returned to school and obtained a bachelor of arts in classical studies from the University of British Columbia at an age when most people are thinking about retirement – at 65. She continued to serve women’s health and education through the National Council of Women of Canada, serving as the international health chair from 1997-2000. She continues to be an inspiration to women today, and especially to the young women recipients of the Rose Yorsh Scholarship who will follow in her footsteps.