AUA Announces Inaugural Chair of Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

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YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) is pleased to introduce Dr. Nour Alayan as associate professor and chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

Dr. Alayan received her Ph.D. in nursing from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and her M.S. and B.S. in nursing from the American University of Beirut (AUB). With extensive academic, clinical, and consulting work experience in the field, she opted for continuing the rest of her career in academia pursuing research and teaching. For the past five years, she has been assistant professor of nursing at the Hariri School of Nursing at AUB.

Her research work focuses on health behavior change based on bio-behavioral science and mental health promotion. She has been engaged in several research projects and published in international peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Addictive BehaviorsThe Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, The Nurse Practitioner, and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Dr. Alayan is also a Stop Smoking practitioner and a behavioral health specialist. She uses holistic interventions such as motivational interviewing, hypnosis, biofeedback, and emotional freedom techniques to support mental health and well-being.

“The introduction of the BSN program has been a groundbreaking step for Armenia. We collaborated with the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports as well as the Ministry of Health in order to overcome legal barriers and prejudices and make it a reality. We are extremely happy that the inaugural chair of the nursing program is Dr. Alayan —  a nurse with a doctoral degree and associate professor with extensive clinical, teaching, and research experience. She is the best role model to inspire our students to pursue full professional development and bring essential positive change to the health system,” remarks Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, CHS dean.

Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Alayan has moved around a lot for her career and was fast to adapt to the Armenian environment. “There are certainly some cultural differences, but coming from a Middle Eastern country, I also notice many similarities between our cultures. Perhaps the only barrier for me is the language, but since I work in an English speaking environment, it is easy to overcome that challenge,” she remarks, adding, “I have had very positive impressions so far. The Turpanjian college was very attractive to me from the beginning — I was impressed to see how productive it is in terms of research output. What I also like about AUA is that it is a small university, where there’s less bureaucracy and smoother communication. Everybody is very supportive. It’s like a family environment, which is very nice.”

Focused on the professional discipline of nursing, Dr. Alayan is teaching different courses within the Registered Nurse (RN)-BSN program, including Foundations of Nursing, Adult Nursing, and Gerontology Nursing among others. Though the RN-BSN is an undergraduate degree program, she explains, it is rather unique in the sense that it is meant for working nurses, who already have a background in nursing but want to advance in their profession. “This gives a different flavor to the program because the nurses come with their personal and professional experiences. And this is the place for them to hone all the necessary skills to become professionally competent nurses who are able to implement evidence-based practice within their workplaces,” she notes.

Dr. Alayan highlights that the mission of the BSN program is to prepare professionals who will become the future change makers and leaders to advance the nursing profession in Armenia. “Nurses have been oppressed for a long time, and it was only in the last 50 years that nursing has evolved into an independent profession with a specific body of knowledge. Still, this profession lags behind in many places around the world, including developed countries,” she says, adding, “As the chair of the BSN program, I see my role, first of all, in supporting and empowering nurses for advancement and excellence. Some of them may have a language barrier, others may have been treated as second class professionals, and so on. So I wish to inspire them with my own example. If I have achieved my career goals, you can do that too,” she asserts.

Having worked as a practicing nurse herself, Dr. Alayan is eager to share her experience with nursing students to help them advance in their profession. “I would like to advise our students to make the most of their time here and get as much knowledge as possible to become competent professionals in their field. Only by knowledge and evidence-based nursing practice will we be able to make a difference.”

As Dr. Alayan notes, the BSN program aims at creating role models in nursing practice. “We look forward to seeing how our nurses will function within the healthcare system at a professional level. There are currently 17 students in the program, but there’s a lot of interest, so I think this number will definitely rise in the coming years. I think the ground is ready for more advancement in nursing. I’m really delighted to be here to witness a change in Armenia’s nursing education. I think it’s a big privilege to be able to take part in a big project like this. This happens once in a lifetime,” she remarks.

Asked what initially brought her to healthcare, Dr. Alayan says, “I always liked helping people. When I was in school, I volunteered at the red cross and other organizations which eventually made me more interested in healthcare. At first, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but once I started studying nursing, I discovered that it is what I really want to do. I wanted to be at the bedside with patients as their advocate to make changes in their lives. The drive of making a change — making a difference in people’s lives is what keeps inspiring me to this day,” she concludes.

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