Churches, pomegranate, apricots, tragedy, patriotism and perseverance. If someone were to ask me to describe Armenia in a few words, those would be the ones I would pick.
As I go down to the hostel cafeteria for my last breakfast, I say a word over and over again my head. I must get it right on the first try. A few minutes later, “Shonrhaakhaalutuun!” I say, and the look of surprise comes over the cafeteria ladies, quickly replaced by a pleasant smile and a reply of: “Very goooooddd, khunzsem.”
As they gave me my breakfast, I had expressed my thankfulness in a formal Armenian way, rather than the short “merci” borrowed from French. The reply was “you are welcome.” The late Nelson Mandela once said that, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” From my few experiences of travelling around, this has been true every time!
The Armenian people are a warm, welcoming and a hospitable folk. They are proud of their history and their heritage which they hold very close to their hearts, but at the same time do not forget to adapt and change with our modern world. As you enter the Armenian churches, you are immediately pulled back to the Middle Ages, or even further, with the atmosphere and the reverence you can feel in the air, but as you walk around Yerevan at night, you are dazzled by the night life. Two different worlds existing side by side, in a balanced harmonic convergence.
I had an incredible experience in Armenia from learning medicine to learning about cultures and the history of humanity. During the day I would be a medical student, learning about Neurology and Neurosurgery, and by the night I would be a typical tourist. I met amazing people from around the globe and tried amazing food. I saw incredible sights and experienced awe in the shadows of ancient ruins. But if there is something that I take away from my trip to Armenia, it's that the role of the Physician is the same, anywhere in the world. It all boils down to providing the best care possible to your patient. You must do the best you can for your patient.
I personally feel that I was placed under one of the best physicians in the country, as he had received the highest civilian honour possible to receive in Armenia: The Presidential Award - he had barely turned 30 then. Yet, he did not even mention this until the very last few days I spent with him. This man kept a case report on cases he thought he could have performed better as a personal reminder that he is not perfect, that he must keep working harder to improve upon his already near perfect – in my opinion - skill level as a neurosurgeon. He demonstrated that a physician should always try his/her hardest to provide the best care possible with what they have, in any environment. And not just him, the entire team in the department was always welcoming to patients in any situation. It would not matter if they were having their afternoon coffee or just taking some personal time off, but if a patient were to come for a consultation, they would give them as much time as needed without any hesitation.
Even in the OR, despite being not as well stocked as North American hospitals, the staff made sure that the patient achieved the same results as most patients in Western Europe or North America would. This involved near perfect technique, creativity to work with limited resources, and perseverance. Seeing them in action and making the best of the situations they were put in, inspired me to work just as hard as them, to be just as creative as them and to stay humble. If they can achieve great results then I, being fortunate enough to be in a place with readily available medical resources and universal health care, can better patient care in our population to an even greater height!
I hope to return to Armenia someday to learn from these great physicians on how one must use what they are given and still provide the best, evidence based results for their patient, without any compromises. I will talk to you folks later! For now, I will go back to the pitter-patter of rain in Meadow Lake as I pass my half way point of my PREP experience this is beautiful rural community! More to come on Meadow Lake later!
Stopped by in Vienna, '‘'Cuz why not
The only standing pagan temple in Armenia. Said to be older than the capital Yerevan and Rome itself. This is Garni, the temple to the sun God, Mihr
My team and I, Department of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Hospital No.1 in Yerevan
No journey is complete without a broken tour bus! This was on my last adventure in Armenia, 24 hours before my flight out
Etchmiadzin, The Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Passages of works by Hippocrates, in the ancient Armenian archives. #Medicine