Salpy Akaragian, RN-BC, MN, director, International and Nurse Credentialing, UCLA Health, received the national Nurse.com GEM award in the Volunteerism and Service category on Jan. 27 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
I am honored to present this prestigious award to Salpy, and there is no question she has achieved professional success and this special recognition through her hard work and dedication, said Eileen P. Williamson, RN, MSN, Nurse.com senior vice president and CNE.
Williamson bestowed the GEM award and framed Nurse.com winners cover to Akaragian, and presented Heidi Crooks, RN, MA, senior associate director of operations and patient care services and CNO, UCLA Health, a plaque recognizing UCLA as home to a Nurse.com national winner.
With more than 150 coworkers, leadership, friends and family in attendance, Crooks recognized Akaragian as an amazing colleague and expressed her pride in all that Akaragian has accomplished for UCLA Health and the profession. Crooks said nothing is ever too much for Akaragian and there is nothing she wont do to help others.
Volunteer efforts praised
The surgeon on the medical mission team, Akira Ishiyama, MD, professor, David Geffen School of Medicine, division of head and neck surgery, at UCLA, spoke about his first-hand experiences with Akaragian, saying she is the heart of the missions and someone who never tires of her special calling. Akaragian showed a poignant video of her team working in Armenia and the children whose hearing they restore with cochlear implants.
Also paying tribute to her was David T. Feinberg, MD, MBA, president, UCLA Health System, CEO, UCLA Hospital System, and associate vice chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences; Carl Wherry, RN, NP, MSN, neurocritical care nurse practitioner, Department of Neurosurgery, UCLA Medical Center; and Cathy Ward, RN, DNSc, NEA-BC, director of nursing, UCLA Health.
Sharing excerpts from the nomination, Williamson said Akaragian gives back to the U.S. and to Armenia, her country of origin, through volunteer efforts, changing the lives of many children and adults. Williamson said Akaragian is the personification of volunteerism and someone who encourages others to lives of service. When I called Salpy to tell her she was named a national winner, she said she was ecstatic, overwhelmed and thrilled, adding that its wonderful to be recognized for something I love to do, Williamson said.
Helping people in LA
At her home in Los Angeles, Akaragian has dedicated hours to students aspiring to healthcare roles as nurses, physical therapists, physicians and scientists. She also has worked tirelessly on behalf of thousands of Armenian-American school children in southern California, who through her efforts have received the healthcare screening they need. She has supported Armenian-American nurses in her founding of the Armenian American Nurses Association in California and worked with them to bring healthcare to Armenia and provide care and assistance to the victims of Armenias
Assisting nurses in Armenia
Volunteering away from home, Akaragian has worked with many nurses in Armenia, establishing the countrys first baccalaureate nursing school that now boasts more than 400 graduates, and helped to set up a neonatal resuscitation center, the first ambulatory womens health clinic and a CPR training center. She created primary care and initiated the Magnet journey in two Armenian hospitals, and as founder and president of the Armenian International Medical Fund, Akaragian participated in the development of innovative healthcare projects.