Progress in Elder Care and Nursing Culture: Reaching the Nursing Community at Nork Marash Medical Center and Gyumri State Medical College

On June 13-16th the Nursing in Armenia project, a partnership between University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) and American University of Armenia School of Public Health (AUA SPH) continued its outreach efforts with nurses and nursing student and held a workshop on elder care at Nork Marash Medical Center (NMMC) and a workshop on culture of nursing practice at Gyumri State Medical College.

Dr. Sarah Kagan, the Lucy Walker Honorary Term Professor of Gerontological Nursing at Penn Nursing and Academic Consultant for the Nursing in Armenia Project, led the workshop at Nork Marash Medical Center and Dr. Kristina Akopyan from AUA SPH helped with organizational efforts and simultaneous translation. The workshop engaged a group of over 30 healthcare providers, mostly nurses, in a discussion about assessing frailty in elder care. Dr. Kagan introduced the topic by describing the growing older population and the importance of fostering geriatric competence among healthcare workers and creating an age-friendly environment. The staff were highly involved in discussing case studies and examples throughout the seminar, sharing their own experiences and opinions. Dr. Kagan then covered the misconceptions and biases frequently present in elder care and how to avoid ageism and parentalism in clinical practice. Afterward, Mrs. Aida Yeritsyan, the Chief Nurse of the Nork Marash Medical Center discussed with Nursing in Armenia Project team future workshop opportunities for a larger audience at their center.

AUA SPH intern Abigail Burns from Penn Nursing and Serine Sahakyan from AUA SPH led the workshop at the Gyumri State Medical College.  Ms. Burns covered the main characteristics of nursing profession, basics of clinical thinking, as well as some basic practical skills to promote building self-esteem and professional identity among Armenian nurses. About 60 students and 5 nursing faculty from Gyumri State Medical College participated in the event. Serine Sahakyan coordinated the outreach efforts and provided simultaneous translation into Armenian. Both nursing students and faculty were very engaged and open about sharing cultural differences and learning new methods from the workshop.

Both workshops were very successful in better equipping the audience to provide quality elder care and increasing cross-cultural nursing awareness among nursing students. Through such events, the Nursing in Armenia Project continues to disseminate the findings from the Nursing in Armenia assessment, build coalition of stakeholders, and apply the results of the study into action to improve nursing profession throughout the country.

This project and partnership between Penn Nursing and AUA SPH was made possible thanks to the generous support of Edele Hovnanian, University of Pennsylvania alumna and trustee of her family’s foundation, the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation. The Hovanian family remains committed to improving lives and making a difference in Armenia.

The AUA School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.

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Sarah Kagan describing trends in population pyramids

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Seminar participants from Nork Marash Medical Center and the Nursing in Armenia team

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Seminar participants from Gyumri State Medical College

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Ms. Abigail Burns during her lecture

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Students during their group work sessions