Nursing Students Assist Social Support Centers With Their Coursework

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YEREVAN, Armenia — The Fall 2023 Semester marked an important milestone in delineating and advancing the role of a community health nurse in Yerevan, Armenia. Students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program of the Gerald & Patricia Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) at the American University of Armenia (AUA) had the opportunity to visit various community centers and provide services to vulnerable populations, including children and older adults, as part of the BSN 210: Community and Public Health Nursing course.

The following organizations were included in the list of centers that students visited and delivered health promotion activities: Yerevan Boarding School N1 for Older Adults, Nork Boarding School for Older Adults, Social Care Center for Children of Ajapnyak community of Yerevan, and Association of Healthcare and Assistance to Older People. This collaboration was facilitated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

The overall course objectives encompass conducting a health needs assessment of each center’s population, identifying the respective priority needs, and accordingly designing, implementing, and evaluating an educational intervention.

Case in point, one of the centers the students visited is run by the Association of HealthCare and Assistance to Older People, where students were assigned to assess the target population’s healthcare needs and perform a learning needs assessment of stakeholders. Based on the results of the assessment, the students, guided by faculty members Talin Gulgulian and Vicky Herkelian, designed, implemented, and evaluated an educational intervention on an identified healthcare issue.

Throughout the course, the students gained comprehensive insight into the profession by collaborating with different professionals. The association’s director, social workers, and psychologists were receptive and open to approaches to meeting the needs of their beneficiaries. Students also spent valuable time with the residents, holding informal discussions with them, chatting about their lives, problems, and challenges at this stage of their lives. They also participated in different activities that the staff had organized for the older residents of the center, including physical exercises and conversations about the psychosocial aspects of life; group games, such as Bingo, which they especially enjoyed playing with one another, etc.

The pinnacle of the students’ efforts was the event organized for the Center’s residents to visit the AUA CHS on December 1. The occasion featured a presentation on diabetes and lifestyle management of diabetes prepared by nursing students Ani Mikayelyan, Liana Nahapetyan, Tatevig Givargizyan, and faculty. The residents learned new information on diabetes and evidence-based tools to control their glucose levels and maintain a good quality of life with diabetes.

The event was very rewarding for the residents, nursing students, and faculty to engage in this informal social activity and the reception that followed. The older adults left AUA with renewed energy and hope to have continued communication with the University. Reciprocally, our nursing students learned and practiced firsthand in primary and secondary healthcare interventions.

The recommendations resulting from the coursework will be shared with this and other centers’ directors and the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

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.