Feasibility and integration of an intensive emergency pediatric care curriculum in Armenia

Published by Aline Baghdassarian, Al M. Best, Anushavan Virabyan, Claire Alexanian, Shant Shekherdimian, Sally A. Santen & Hambartzum Simonyan | International Journal of Emergency Medicine

Emergency pediatric care curriculum (EPCC) was developed to address the need for pediatric rapid assessment and resuscitation skills among out-of-hospital emergency providers in Armenia. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of EPCC in increasing physicians’ knowledge when instruction transitioned to local instructors. We hypothesize that (1) EPCC will have a positive impact on post-test knowledge, (2) this effect will be maintained when local trainers teach the course, and (3) curriculum will satisfy participants.

This is a quasi-experimental, pre-test/post-test study over a 4-year period from October 2014‑November 2017. Train-the-trainer model was used. Primary outcomes are immediate knowledge acquisition each year and comparison of knowledge acquisition between two cohorts based on North American vs local instructors. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize results. Pre-post change and differences across years were analyzed using repeated measures mixed models.

Test scores improved from pretest mean of 51% (95% CI 49.6 to 53.0%) to post-test mean of 78% (95% CI 77.0 to 79.6%, p < 0.001). Average increase from pre- to post-test each year was 27% (95% CI 25.3 to 28.7%). Improvement was sustained when local instructors taught the course (p = 0.74). There was no difference in improvement when experience in critical care, EMS, and other specialties were compared (p = 0.23). Participants reported satisfaction and wanted the course repeated. In 2017, EPCC was integrated within the Emergency Medicine residency program in Armenia.

This program was effective at impacting immediate knowledge as well as participant satisfaction and intentions to change practice. This knowledge acquisition and reported satisfaction remained constant even when the instruction was transitioned to the local instructors after 2 years. Through a partnership between the USA and Armenia, we provided OH-EPs in Armenia with an intensive educational experience to attain knowledge and skills necessary to manage acutely ill or injured children in the out-of-hospital setting.

EPCC resulted in significant improvement in knowledge and was well received by participants. This is a viable and sustainable model to train providers who have otherwise not had formal education in this field.

Best Practices

Best PracticesInfectious disease specialist Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian is a case study in giving back to the community.

When COVID-19 began its inexorable spread across the United States, with mass anxiety and confusion rising with
every uptick in what came to be known as “the Curve,” Armenian health professionals and communities across the country had an inside edge: the eloquent and compelling Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian. Despite an increasingly overwhelming professional reality in front of her, one that comes once a century, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service, determined to arm her own community with relevant and practical information.

From that point on, this persuasive dynamo, who appears week after week on household Zoom screens and Facebook pages across the Internet, is prepared to take questions, explain the science, vet the data, and give no-nonsense advice as to how families can stay safe and healthy. As a longstanding board member of the Armenian-American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) with a mission to promote and advance the science and art of healing and to educate and improve the health of the Armenian community, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service as soon as the news of the virus began circulating through the medical community in early 2020.

“I contacted key members of the AAHPO board. Speaking as an infectious disease specialist, I explained that this virus needed to be taken extremely seriously and urgently.”