My Way Home
Dr. Lucy Karahagopian's Journey Enriching Armenian Healthcare
Armenia's healthcare system has radically transformed since its independence in 1991. One healthcare practitioner who has played a pivotal role in this evolution is Dr. Lucy Karahagopian, an MD specializing in dermatology, cosmetology, and trichology. Her journey from the Armenian diaspora to her homeland exemplifies the potential of repatriation to shape Armenia's healthcare landscape.
A Global Perspective on Healthcare
With experience in countries like Lebanon and England, Dr. Lucy offers a unique perspective on Armenia's healthcare system. She highlights the advantages and challenges compared to her experiences abroad.
"In Armenia, you can directly access specialized care without referrals, which is not always the case in Europe or the US," she notes. This streamlined approach reduces patient wait times for specialized treatment.
However, she acknowledges that the autonomy of healthcare professionals in Armenia can lead to imbalances in the medical field. "In Armenia, each doctor chooses their specialty, which can result in disparities between different medical fields," she explains. This unique aspect presents both opportunities and challenges for healthcare practitioners like herself.
A Professional Odyssey Back Home
Dr. Lucy's return to Armenia was driven by familial connection and a desire to contribute to the country's healthcare sector. "My parents and other family members graduated from YSMU (Yerevan State Medical University). The plan was for me to study there as well," she recalls. However, her journey took an unexpected turn.
"Initially, I had plans to move abroad, study, and work there for some time before returning to Armenia. Contrary to my belief, here I am, less than three years after getting my dermatology and cosmetology license, achieving everything I thought would take at least a decade."
Educating the Future Generation
Dr. Lucy's impact extends beyond her medical practice; she is also a dedicated educator. She teaches dermatology to fourth-year medical students at Haybusak University and medical cosmetology at Helios. Her role as a lecturer allows her to nurture the next generation of healthcare professionals in Armenia.
"The theoretical part of medical education in Armenia is quite advanced," she observes. However, she notes an area for improvement. "The practical aspect and research opportunities are lacking," she states. Dr. Lucy addresses this gap by offering her students practical experiences in her own work.
Building Bridges in Armenia
Dr. Lucy's return to Armenia has not been without challenges. One significant hurdle was the language barrier. Learning to read and write in Armenian was a necessity for her practice. Her determination allowed her to overcome this obstacle within months of working at Helios.
On a personal level, adjusting to Armenia's culture, traditions, and customs took time. "It's not always easy seeing eye to eye, but having my mother's side of the family who lived here and visiting them even before I moved definitely helped me integrate," she explains. Her journey highlights the importance of willpower in integration. "If you really want something, you work for it. If you want to integrate, you try to learn the language, customs, and quirks and understand the people around you. It's not easy, it's an adjustment, but it is definitely possible."
Armenia as a Healthcare Destination
Armenia has been gaining recognition as a destination for medical tourism in recent years, and Dr. Lucy is at the forefront of this transformation. She believes Armenia's medical tourism potential is immense, thanks to its brilliant healthcare professionals and state-of-the-art facilities.
"We have so many brilliant doctors here with huge potential. I don't think there's any area we can't excel in," she affirms. Armenia's advantage in the medical tourism sector is competitive pricing. "It is very convenient for international patients to get treatments and procedures here because prices are much lower than abroad, and the quality of the service is just as good, if not better."
The commitment to excellence is evident at Helios Medical Center, where Dr. Lucy practices. "We have all the latest equipment in dermatocosmetology, and we are always on the lookout for novelties," she says proudly. The center's new plastic surgery branch is also quickly gaining recognition among local and international patients.
Cosmetology, plastic surgery, and hair transplantation are among the leading fields that attract international patients to Armenia. Dr. Lucy believes that Armenia's healthcare system is poised to make a significant impact in the medical tourism industry, drawing patients from around the world.
A Holistic Approach to Well-being
In her practice, Dr. Lucy emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to well-being. Beyond physical health, she underscores the significance of mental health. "I can't stress enough how much a person's mental health and quality of thoughts can affect physical well-being," she asserts. Stress and negative thoughts can manifest in various physical health issues, a phenomenon she has encountered frequently in her patients.
"Medicine has traditionally focused on the physical, but research and experience continuously show that so many illnesses are directly related to a person's stress levels, negative thoughts, and mental health," Dr. Lucy explains. Her approach encourages patients to prioritize mental well-being alongside physical health. Engaging in activities that bring happiness and positivity, such as hobbies and inspirational reading, can contribute to a healthier mindset.
A Promising Future for Armenian Healthcare
Dr. Lucy Karahagopian's journey back to Armenia is a remarkable story of repatriation, dedication, and transformation. Her unique perspective, as both a repatriate and a healthcare professional, has allowed her to bridge worlds and contribute to the evolving landscape of Armenian healthcare.
As she continues to heal and inspire, Dr. Lucy represents the resilience and potential of individuals who return to Armenia to enrich their homeland. Her dedication, along with the evolving healthcare system in Armenia, promises a brighter and healthier future for the nation and its people.
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