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Associate Professor Lusine Poghosyan’s Armenian Upbringing Fuels Her Passion for Nursing and Science

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Growing up in a small village in Armenia during times of upheaval and hardship, Poghosyan, the daughter of a pediatric nurse, learned the value of community and the enduring spirit. This experience drove her to become a nurse. It has also informed her research agenda as a nurse scientist at Columbia Nursing, where she dedicates her work to finding ways to make healthcare teams more effective and maximizing nursing’s contribution to patient care.

What made you want to pursue nursing as a career?

My mother is a pediatric nurse. Growing up in a small village in Armenia, I watched her be the first person in the neighborhood people ran to for advice, help, and comfort. She was available to everyone at any time of the day. Our family was woken up many times in the middle of the night by young mothers knocking on our door because their child had a fever or by an elderly person who had high blood pressure. Whatever the issue was, my mother would leave the house in the middle of the night with a smile on her face and willingness to help.

 

When the time came for me to choose a profession, I was debating between either becoming a lawyer, so I could advocate for equality and fairness, or a physician, so that I could make people healthier. I loved what my mother did, but I knew changes needed to be made especially in team relations between nurses, hospital administrations and physicians, and I wanted to be part of that change.

 

Nursing combines both my passion for equality and fairness and making people healthier. Now, as a nursing professor, I advocate for nurses, patients, and my students. I help to make people healthier by producing evidence to remove care barriers and by teaching the next generation of the best clinicians. The longer I have been a nurse, the more I believe nursing—and especially being a professor—is the best profession.

Your background is Armenian and you received your first degree in nursing in Armenia. How has your experience as an Armenian nurse influenced your role as a researcher and professor in the United States?

Growing up in Armenia taught me a lot about the importance of community. I grew up during a difficult time in Armenia. The country was facing a war and trying to recover from a devastating earthquake that damaged about 25 percent of it. Whatever the challenge was, I witnessed how communities came together quickly to support each other. For example, my mother still continued working as a nurse and taking care of the neighborhood, even though she did not receive her salary for months because of the country’s economic crisis.

 

This sense of community has translated into my research interests. I study how to build effective healthcare teams—communities in their own right—to take care of patients in critical situations and how to improve work environments in health care organizations to promote and support teamwork. As a teacher, I try to instill in my students the importance of community and working together when they design and implement research and classroom projects.

What made you come to Columbia Nursing and what makes the school unique for you?

Throughout my career, I have surrounded myself with talented and hardworking individuals who helped me grow both professionally and personally. Columbia University and Columbia Nursing characterize this culture of talent and diligence I prize, and I am thrilled to be part of the faculty.

 

I think our students make the school unique. We attract the best and brightest students who come to Columbia Nursing with big ideas and dreams, who possess the passion and dedication needed to improve health globally. It’s inspiring to be part of their journey.

What are your primary responsibilities as part of Columbia Nursing’s faculty?

I spend most of my time conducting research, teaching, and mentoring students. With my research team, we design studies to answer critical research questions about nursing practice and how it impacts quality of care and patient outcomes. My students always keep me engaged in the classroom and excited about the future of nursing!

Please describe your current research agenda. In particular, can you speak about your most recent publication in Medical Care, entitled “Nurse Practitioner Practice Environments in Primary Care and Quality of Care for Chronic Diseases”?  

My research program focuses on how to optimally utilize the growing workforce of nurse practitioners (NPs) in primary care to ensure patients have access to timely, high-quality primary care. The demand for primary care services in the U.S. is increasing exponentially, and the NP workforce, expected to almost double in near future, can help address this demand. However, a number of federal, state, and organizational policies and barriers constrain the ability of NPs to help the country meet the growing demand for primary care. In my research, I identify these policies and barriers, particularly in how they relate to patient care and outcomes.

 

For example, in a recent manuscript published in Medical Care, we demonstrated that NP practice environments within their employment settings affected the quality of care for chronic conditions, including asthma and cardiovascular disease. If NPs practiced in healthcare organizations with favorable NP-administration relations, then the likelihood of receiving medication management for asthma increased. Similarly, if NP independent practice was supported within their organizations, then the likelihood of receiving recommended screenings for cardiovascular disease increased. We suggested that actions should be taken to improve NP practice environments to potentially improve quality of care for patients with chronic diseases.

Would you like to add anything else?

Nurses are the largest healthcare workforce in the country and the most trusted professionals by the public. Columbia Nursing prepares the best nurse scientists, clinicians, and leaders. I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing university, supporting the growth and success of the nursing school.