Dr. Sonya Palajyan, 59, accredits her love and dedication to medicine to her mother. “My mom once recited a poem she wrote about me becoming a doctor. I forgot the beginning, but the end went something like this: ‘I will become a doctor to first heal people’s wounds, then sing and dance with them’,” she said with a beaming smile.

Dr. Palajyan, a general practitioner and rheumatologist, has spent her career working in several clinics in Shirak Province and now works in the emergency unit of Gyumri Medical Center. She serves 15 to 20 patients a day. While she is also the first doctor in her family, her children decided to follow her path and are now doctors themselves. Her daughter Ani, 33, is a dentist, and her son Ghukas, 32, is a urologist.

Dr. Palajyan is sure that lifelong learning makes doctors better, especially rural doctors, who are often isolated from developments in their field. “Keeping up with the most current medical information is very important and also challenging. Some doctors lack financial resources to attend trainings; in this regard, Fund for Armenian Relief provided me with every opportunity to travel to Yerevan and learn the best practices applied at different medical centers,” she said.

Dr. Palajyan is a two-time beneficiary of FAR’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) Program , a professional development program geared to help doctors in rural Armenia update their skills primarily through training at leading medical centers in Yerevan. In 2014, Dr. Palajyan spent a month training in general therapy at Muratsan Medical Center. She was selected again for the program in 2018, where she spent time learning about the latest practices in rheumatology at Erebuni Medical Center.

“Every doctor should update their knowledge annually. I didn’t do it for four years and that’s why I applied to FAR’s program again. Consistency in the CME program is the most important element, and that motivated me to apply for the training for the second time,” said Dr. Palajyan.