Andrea Simonian

University of California, Los Angeles
UCLA College of Letters and Science
Bachelor of Physiological Sciences
Huys Scholar 2019

As a UCLA student, I am held to the values beyond academic success with an emphasis on service and community involvement. Furthermore, my Armenian identity has instilled great pride in me and a desire to use the time I spend at this institution looking for ways to better the lives of those who share my Armenian roots. As a pre-health student, my vision for a better Armenia lies primarily in the healthcare field, and the problems which I hope to address during and beyond my education are rooted in personal observations. Last summer, while volunteering in hospitals in Armenia, I observed several different systematic concerns which were significantly limiting patient care. As a country which is still developing, Armenia still has many improvements to make in hospitals and clinics, and I would like to contribute to this effort by creating a series of initiatives which operate to improve Armenian hospitals while also bridging the gap between Armenians inside the country and out.

While volunteering at the hospitals in Yerevan, two issues stuck out to me almost immediately.

English Language Proficiency: At one of the hospitals, several technicians could not understand the English error messages on their machines and did not know to address the problem until the machine stopped working altogether. Without a properly working machine, the technician I was shadowing had to stop seeing patients for the rest of the day.

I would like to pilot a program wherein volunteers are dispatched to local hospitals in order to run training sessions for technicians working diagnostic machines such as ultrasound machines, X-ray machines, etc. These volunteers could come from local Armenian schools and universities that teach English such as the American University of Armenian. Additionally, we could recruit volunteers from abroad by reaching out to the Armenian Volunteer Corp (AVC) — a non profit organization that organizes and endorses volunteer abroad — to create a trip where volunteers are directed specifically to teach the necessary English vocabulary in hospitals.

I believe that with these skills, technicians will be both better able to take advantage of diagnostic technology and more aware of any possible malfunctions to ensure that patients are never turned away from the tests they need.

Paperless Documentation: Additionally, while volunteering at another hospital, I worked alongside nurses and observed the way in which the hospital keeps patient data. Everything is printed and stored on paper which significantly slows down communication. As a volunteer, I spent much of my time traveling between the different offices of the hospital for doctors’ signatures and test results. Additionally, I saw that nurses were still occupied with archiving records from two years prior.

With donated technology and refurbishments performed by volunteers (student or otherwise), we can provide medical centers with basic technology at a low cost. The model for this project would be based on those of organizations such as Tech Exchange  and human I.T — organizations which bridge the digital divide by donating technology to families and businesses in need.

Transitioning to paperless to documentation will ensure that all hospital employees are able to rapidly communicate with one another, better allowing for the collaboration essential to patient care. This new form of data storage will also eliminate the need for time consuming processes for archiving and safeguard patient information.

In addition to these specific initiatives, I have larger dreams of connecting the communities outside of Armenia, and harnessing the massive potential of the people in my immediate vicinity. As a student in Los Angeles, I have access to one of the largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia full of resources and expertise that should be channeled back into helping our people in Armenia. As such, I feel it is absolutely requisite to the growth of Armenia’s health care system that we bridge the gap between our motherland and communities across the world in order to ensure that through collaboration, we provide the best care possible.

At a university level, UCLA specifically has a large community of Armenian students, many of which, like me, hope to pursue professional careers in healthcare. Through organizations such as the Armenian Students’ Association and the Armenian Pre-Med Society, I have the ability to make connections not only with Armenian professionals currently in the field, but also with the individuals who will make up the field in the future. Furthermore, with a student body of about 31,000 undergraduate, I will no doubt find people able and willing to assist with the aforementioned projects.

Finally, I hope to utilize this vast network in creating a long-term project of a medical conference in Yerevan. I dream of creating a central event for Armenians throughout the world in the healthcare industry to come together in Yerevan and participate in an event of workshops and speakers where professionals can discuss the further development of Armenians healthcare and learn how to integrate novel technologies, ultimately creating a plan to slowly integrate a more advanced system into hospitals throughout the country.

I am aware that Huys Foundation is granting the scholarship to me with the anticipation of my good faith pursuit and implementation of the projects and undertakings described in this letter, to which I hereby commit.