Armenia’s National Centre of Oncology (NCO; public hospital and the only comprehensive cancer centre in the country) is implementing a project to improve access to palliative care services. On October 8 2022, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, a large new palliative care clinic opened in a standalone building on the NCO premises with a capacity of 30 beds, for both in- and out-patient care, in accordance with international standards.
The NCO focuses on employing highly professional staff and administers its own in-house programme of staff training for vocational and institutional capability development. Prior to the opening, the clinic’s head nurse, Mrs. Varvara Arsenyan, was deployed to the Netherlands for a 2-week intensive internship at the University Medical Centre (UMC) in Utrecht.
After graduating from medical school in 1993, Mrs. Arsenyan started her nursing career at a clinical hospital in Yerevan where she became the head nurse of the therapy department in 2002. Since 2012, when Mrs. Arsenyan was promoted to the position of chief nurse, she has been combining the roles of very good nurse and highly effective manager. During the period 2009-2017, Mrs. Arsenyan also taught nursing practice at a medical school in Yerevan.
The scope of Mrs. Arsenyan’s interests during her internship at the UMC Utrecht included technical nursing operations, such as pain management and bedsore prevention and treatment, as well as different approaches to palliative care management e.g. document flow, patient registration, patient orientation, personnel structure with roles and responsibilities, data collection and management etc. Taking into account Mrs. Arsenyan’s prior teaching experience, the NCO will hold its in-house training programme for nursing staff at the palliative care clinic, and the knowledge and skills gained by Mrs. Arsenyan during her internship in Utrecht have already been shared with her colleagues in Yerevan.
The NCO allocated resources and funding for travel and accommodation for Mrs Arsenyan’s internship, and the UMC Utrecht kindly did not charge for any costs related to the internship.
This project was initiated in May 2022 by Inspire2Live patient advocate Hripsime Martirosyan, who addressed a request to hospitals in the Netherlands providing palliative care, to explore the possibility of hosting an Armenian nurse for a 2-week internship. The discussions with UMC Utrecht went smoothly and flawlessly and all arrangements were finalised in a very short space of time. We finally obtained a Schengen visa and the internship took place from September 19-30 2022, just days before the clinic’s official opening in Yerevan. Mrs Arsenyan deeply enjoyed her time in Utrecht and, with her new knowledge and the new techniques and practices witnessed at UMC Utrecht, she now feels more confident and equipped to lead the clinic’s nursing staff and coordinate the administrative management of patients.
Patient Advocate Inspire2Live