Silva Amaryan Amirkhanian
THRIVE is an AIWA project dedicated to highlighting individuals who are doing remarkable things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Silva Amaryan Amirkhanian RN, MSN at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Silva Amaryan Amirkhanian is RN, MSN at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Silva was born in Armenia and immigrated to LA in 1987. She attended Arshag Dickranian Armenian School where she met Art, her husband of 12 years. She continued her education at California State University, Northridge where she received degrees in Biology and subsequently a second bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 2013. She began working at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in 2014 as a registered nurse on the oncology and bone marrow transplant unit, currently holding a position on the nursing leadership team. She completed her master’s degree in nursing leadership in 2021. Oncology is complex; she finds it challenging and rewarding at the same time. She prides herself for being there to help someone finish their last chemotherapy and go home to their family and at the same time comforting the spouse of a dying patient. The reward is doing what is best for each patient and family. She hopes to continue her career at the medical center as an Armenian American woman who holds a prominent role and can give back to my community and others.
While she is not a bedside nurse, she overlooks nurses and patients on a daily basis. It’s very important for her to know her patients and their stories. She is attentive to understanding their struggles do whatever possible to make them happy and comfortable. Cedars has a Talking Angels program that welcomes newly diagnosed patients with a beautiful blanket and a personalized staff note. It means a lot to provide comfort and support to patients. Even though patients are devastated to be diagnosed with cancer, we do our best to bring them peace and hope on their journey. Often times, family and friends ask her how she does the work she does, without being saddened, “I tell them that I see their motivation and hope to live a life once again outside the hospital walls. When we walk into the patient’s room, we see pictures of family and friends and they begin to tell you amazing stories. To see our patients, staying positive even at their worst state gives me the strength and motivation to be here and fight alongside them. I’ve been a part of patients’ last breaths and see their loved ones surrounding the patient. I have also accompanied patients who have passed alone in their room. Providing human touch during a dark time is comforting for the patient and myself. The patient may or may not have known of my presence but at least I knew that I was there to accompany them on their transition. I have recently been inspired to look into becoming a death doula, a person who assists in the dying process, much like a midwife or doula does with the birthing process.” It is a difficult time for the patient and loved ones, and if Silva and her team can do anything to alleviate some of the distress it will make a world of difference. Silva continues to be inspired to work in oncology everyday knowing she is there for those in need. Silva shares, “I get calls from family and friends asking about their loved one who’ve been diagnosed with cancer and what to expect. I have had many heartfelt conversations with people regarding the reality of their cancer diagnosis and what to expect. To have people come back and tell me our conversation meant a lot and brought them some peace means the world to me. For the last 8 years, I have experienced so much and it has helped me to be optimistic in my own life. I do not take things for granted and always appreciate what I have and what is given to me at that time. I always find the silver lining of the story and motivate those around me. I want people to live without regret and disappointment, because we never know what life holds. I always say “tetev tar” [take it easy with what life gives you].
I want to continue to inspire and be inspired and grow as a mother, community leader and a medical professional.”
Q: What is your life philosophy?
Be confident with what you know, but also be confident with what you don’t, and find out.
Q: What is your hope for the future?
I hope to see future Armenian generations continue to embrace our culture and language. I hope to see our motherland thrive and protect themselves from the evils of the world. I hope the Armenian diaspora continues to fight for our people and our history is taught and accepted.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian/Armenians?
I love the loud and large gatherings. I enjoy getting together with family and friends and smelling the barbecue on the manghal [grill]. I love that I come from a country that has so much history, culture, and beauty. I love that no matter where we are in the world our ears perk up when we hear someone speak Armenian and we are immediately drawn to acknowledge one another.
Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?
I take great pride in being Armenian. I have strong family values and believe in unity and community. I will always say I am Armenian before anything else. April 2022, I put together an Armenian History Month education board at work with a luncheon featuring Armenian food for staff to try. It was a wonderful feeling to know that people respected you and embraced your culture by asking questions and enjoying the food of your people.
October 2020- The Armenians of Cedars Sinai Medical Center united to hold a vigil for Armenia during the 44 Day War taking place in Artsakh. We brought exposure and attention to our cause and educated those who were supportive.
September 2019- Worked with a group of nurses to create an art installation called Colors of Courage. It was made of medication vial caps in the shape of the cancer ribbon. We used different colors to represent different cancers. Our work was approved and hung on our unit in the hospital with recognition from the CEO for our beautiful work.
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