Care for Children with Special Needs: Reaching the Nursing Community from Rehabilitation Centers and Primary Healthcare Facilities

YEREVAN, Armenia – On October 3 and 5, the Nursing in Armenia project of the AUA Center for Health Services Research and Development continued its outreach efforts with nurses and held a workshop on promoting healthy development among children with special needs. Ms. Marion M. Karian and Ms. Lilith Assadourian, child development specialists from California, designed and led the workshop in collaboration with Nursing in Armenia team members Serine Sahakyan (MPH ‘15) and Kristina Akopyan (MPH ‘13). About 30 nurses from primary health care facilities and specialized institutions providing care to children with disabilities attended the workshop. The Ministry of Health of Armenia provided five CPD (CME) theoretical credits for participation in this workshop emphasizing the importance of this training for nurses’ continuous professional development.  

Ms. Lilith Assadourian led the discussion on developmental screenings and monitoring of children with special needs. Ms. Assadourian stressed the importance of early developmental screenings among children. She noted that screenings enhance children’s learning and development by minimizing the impact of potential developmental delays and resulting in more positive health outcomes. Nurses were largely involved in the discussion by sharing their experience in providing care and overcoming obstacles they face. Ms. Marion M. Karian had a lecture on the importance of supporting social-emotional development of children with special needs. This lecture was especially important for providers from rehabilitation centers and aimed to introduce the concept of social-emotional development, as well as the ways of supporting social-emotional development of children with special needs. Participants were very engaged and open to sharing cultural differences and learning new approaches from the lecture.

After the lecture, Kristina Akopyan and Serine Sahakyan presented the results of the Nursing in Armenia Project to the participants. This triggered a large discussion on opportunities and approaches to advancing the nursing profession in Armenia.  

Through such workshops, the Nursing in Armenia Project continues to disseminate its findings from the Nursing in Armenia assessment, to build coalition of stakeholders, and to apply the results of the study into action for mobilizing efforts on improving the nursing profession throughout Armenia.

This project and partnership between Penn Nursing and AUA School of Public Health 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 Hovnanian 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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Lilith Assadourian

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Seminar participants

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Marion M. Karian

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Serine Sahakyan