Jemma Ayvazian, DNP ’13, ANP-BC
“When I learned that Johns Hopkins matched my needs and interests, I didn’t apply for any other program.”
In 2003, Jemma Ayvazian was a typical military spouse, residing on a U.S. Army base in Germany. She was caring for two small children, worrying about her husband serving in Iraq, and consoling neighbors whose loved ones were also deployed to combat.
“I saw our soldiers coming back from the war zone, and I wanted to help somehow. That’s when I set a goal to become a nurse,” she says.
She became a nurse practitioner in adult health, and no matter where her husband was stationed, she worked with veterans—first in Bedford, MA, then Dayton, OH, and eventually in Washington, D.C.
“I always knew that I wanted to take my degree to the highest level, and I liked looking at research and translating that into clinical practice. The problem was that I didn’t have the skills to differentiate what research was good, what was bad, or how to synthesize it,” she says. So she started looking for the DNP program that was right for her. “When I learned that Hopkins matched my needs and interests, I didn’t apply for any other program.”
At the time, Ayvazian was working in Ohio, where she ran a traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinic and worked in a pain clinic, too. And she frequently saw the same patients in both places.
“It triggered something in my head—large numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans exhibit a cluster of physical, cognitive, and emotional issues like chronic pain, TBI, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I started thinking about how to address these issues simultaneously and design an integrated model of rehabilitative care,” she says. She launched her DNP capstone project to design a comprehensive care program for veterans that addressed several issues—such as mental health, pain management, and traumatic brain injury—all together.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to finish in two years because of the scope of my project, but with the support of my professors, colleagues, and my family, I was able to do that,” she says. “The Hopkins program was exceptional. The support I received was excellent, and my progress was enormous.