Interview by Narine Galstyan
Translation by Anush Muradyan

Photo provided by Parounak Zelveian
2020-06-15 16:12
Professor Parounak Zelveian, Cardiologist, Chief Cardiologist of the city of Yerevan

Today thousands of high school graduates have to make extremely important decisions in their lives - to choose a profession and pick where to receive their higher education.

Some students have known exactly what they want to become since childhood, and they have been making their choices throughout the school years. Others choose their profession by following advice of their parents or acquaintances. There are some who find the answer to the question “which college to choose?” in the very end, spontaneously, without weighing too much. And, life shows that spontaneous decisions also turn out to be good ones, the chosen profession can become a life’s choice, an occupation to which we serve with complete devotion.

Doctor’s profession has always received a certain respect. With COVID-19 epidemic, during the past months medicine received even more appreciation in Armenia as well as in the world. People saw and they continue watching doctors serve their occupation day and night, often by risking their own health in order to save their patients. Perhaps, this is when many young people made the criticall decision to become doctors.

“That’s true, something like this could play a significant role in picking an occupation. I, myself have made up my mind very randomly,” says Dr. Parounak Zelveian, Professor, Chief Cardiologist of the city of Yerevan (his ancestors have had roots in Selveier, Cappadocia; thus the origin of the unique family name, exp. by N. G.). I was an excellent student in the high school, graduated with honors, but I had not picked my educational path upon graduation. From time to time I would think of becoming an astronomer, a mathematician, a biologist, or even a film director.

However, as I mentioned, at the very last moment, I decided to apply to medical school by chance. There were no doctors in my family, neither was it my childhood dream to be a doctor, it was indeed a spontaneous decision. But I was not accepted the first year due to the large number of applicants; at that time there could be up to 40 applications for one opening. So, I served in the Soviet Army for two years, I got back in 1987 and I got into the Institute. By the time we graduated the Institute, it was renamed to Medical University after Mkhitar Heratsi. Many other very important changes also happened in our lives during those years.”.

“Yes, the ’88 was the beginning of the national awakening, the beginning of nationwide uprising led by the youth, the young students.

Majority of my coursemates were mature men who had served in the army and we played an important role during the uprising. It was not simply a duty for us, it was a chance for us to build ourselves, to create our value system, to let go of intellectual stereotypes, to perceive our history from another viewpoint. And, had I not chosen medicine as my profession, I might have not been included in those actions, and my life might have had a different direction.”.

“If I am not mistaken, you received your postgraduate education in Moscow”.

“You know, my family, my relatives never burdened me with everyday issues and always let me do what I loved. When I graduated, and it was time to choose a specialty, my sister had already gotten married and was living in Moscow, so I had a place to live and study. I moved to Moscow. And once again, I was hesitant in my options to choose gynecology or cardiology. I applied to the Gynecology Institute, took the exam, passed it, got home and realized that I had made the wrong choice. I quit the programme and applied to the Cardiology Clinical Institute after Myasnikov. And even though cardiology was a choice by chance, I realized it was my cross to carry, in the best possible meaning, as it turned out to be the most desirable occupation for me after all. It was the right choice I made.”.

“What opportunities did studying in Moscow give you?”

“The Cardiology Clinical Institute after Myasnikov had a large research base, it had international relationships, and I got the chance to do serious science there. After graduating, I started working in the same Institute as a researcher in the laboratory of High Blood Pressure, I carried out serious studies, I wrote my thesis, got my PhD, I received various international training, and,... I returned to Armenia.”.

Upon return to Armenia, Parounak Zelveian founded the Association of Young Doctors (later to be renamed to the “Armenian Medical Association”), and established the Preventive Cardiology Center. Today he is the Chief of the Research Institute of Cardiology. He wrote around 400 scientific papers, 9 monographs, and educational-methodology handbooks. Thanks to his efforts and years of diligent work, Armenian cardiology continues having significant advancement.

“Becoming a doctor was a random choice, however I never regretted making it. I mostly enjoy my work, I feel myself useful in my field and I know it is mine. Today I can say that destiny directed me to the right path.”.