Ani Bagdasarian always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. She had spent her undergraduate and graduate school studying biology and public health, and it wasn’t until her first job out of graduate school that she realized she wanted to become a nurse practitioner.
Bagdasarian grew up in Cupertino, California, and had graduated from the University of California, San Diego, thinking that she would end up going to medical school to become a doctor. When she realized that becoming a doctor was not the only way to help others with health issues, a friend told her she might be interested in something like public health.
“It was exactly what I wanted to do. There are all kinds of approaches to health you can affect positively with public health,” said Bagdasarian.
After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Bagdasarian continued her education and attended University of Southern California for her master’s degree in Public Health with a focus on epidemiology, the study of diseases. During her time at USC, she had an opportunity to work with patients who were enrolled in clinical trials for various diseases and gained medical experience from working with a doctor at his practice.
“I saw different perspectives of health overall, had good patient interaction, and I really liked working one on one,” said Bagdasarian.
Even after graduate school, Bagdasarian was not completely sure what she wanted to do and still was not interested in attending medical school, but knew she really wanted to be directly involved with patients.
“When I was younger, I never wanted to be a nurse, it just never crossed my mind. I didn’t have any impactful or positive experiences with nurses. I didn’t grow up in a community where anyone was saying, ‘I’m going to college to study nursing.’ It was always, doctor, engineer, and lawyer- very typical of Cupertino. I was good at research and I really liked health and helping the masses, as well as working with one patient at a time,” she added.
Life after graduate school was a constant search for a job. Bagdasarian was relentless, having applied to more than 50 jobs over the course of four months. A door was finally opened through a connection at Stanford University.
“My Dad heard of an opening through a coworker whose wife is a nurse practitioner, so I applied online and received a phone call the next day. The department was near the end of their interview period and I made it in, just in time,” she commented.
Bagdasarian worked for the Nurse Research Manager, Linda Norton, RN, MSN, CCRC, (YSN ’80), in the Arrhythmia Group at Stanford University Medical Center. The Arrhythmia Group specializes in cardiac electrophysiology, which focuses on the electricity of the heart.
Bagdasarian stayed at Stanford for two and a half years and worked on an international study, “Cardiac-Resynchronization Therapy for the Prevention of Heart-Failure Events,” headed by Dr. Arthur Moss of the University of Rochester. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2009 and changed the standard of care for patients with heart failure.
Through her experience working with the Arrhythmia Group helped her make the important decision to pursue a career in nursing.
“I made great relationships with patients and I loved working with the nurses in my department," Bagdasarian stated. "They were amazing and helped me evaluate patients. This group of nurses was so specialized, committed to their work, involved in patient care, and brilliant. I really liked the approach nursing takes on the patient as a whole, instead of just focusing on their specific disease. Around the one to two year mark I started thinking about nursing.”
Bagdasarian decided to go to the east coast for her nurse practitioner program, and decided to apply to YSN.
“Compared to other programs, I really appreciated the YSN triad of education, research, and clinical practice," she said. "Linda Norton went there for graduate school and was on faculty for six years. She actually never told me about her past at YSN until I had decided to apply here. Linda is very humble, caring, and one of the smartest people I have ever met. She makes a huge impact in the patient population at Stanford and is very special to me.”
Bagdasarian will be graduating from YSN in May of 2014. As for the future, she is ready for anything with her take-charge attitude. “I know in whatever I’m doing, I will help to create more nursing leaders and role models,” she added.
After YSN, Bagdasarian would like to focus on cardiology.
“I really do enjoy the heart. It affects every system in the body. It’s extremely complicated and I’ll never be bored,” said Bagdasarian.
Her other interests are women’s heart health, disease prevention, and cardiac complications in athletes- specifically sudden death and atrial fibrillation.