Faculty Friday Spotlight: Dr. Naira Chobanyan

Dr. Chobanyan received her MD with highest honors designation from Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia, her PhD in Oncology from Moscow Medical Academy, and her Doctor of Medical Sciences from All-Union Cancer Research Center from the Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow. She has more than 20 years of practice experience in surgical oncology, medical oncology, diagnostic and internal medicine in Europe. As a professor of clinical medicine at AUC, Dr. Chobanyan develops students’ clinical skills through ICM small group teaching classes. She also established and now directs the university’s Clinical Medicine Fellowship program, which connects AUC graduates with clinical research and teaching projects in Sint Maarten. Their work has included novel studies on breast abnormalities and type 2 diabetes in Caribbean populations.

Describe an experience that helped form you as an educator.

Following the footsteps of my parents (both physicians) is the single greatest experience, which led to the development of an insatiable appetite for medical knowledge. This pursuit of excellence is the overriding experience that shapes me as an educator.

How did you become convinced that you should come to AUC?

I was living in The Netherlands-Antilles, working at Saba University. I visited AUC and was amazed by the school and quality of education provided to students.

What is your favorite thing about teaching at AUC?

The excitement of meeting determined goal-oriented young people and the role I play in facilitating their journey to becoming outstanding physicians.

What are some of your favorite things about Sint Maarten?

Its beauty, and the friendly spirit of the local population.

What is an underappreciated aspect of life at AUC?

I am not certain if there is an underappreciated aspect of AUC. What I have personally enjoyed is a supportive administration that values and recognizes faculty contributions that go above and beyond their primary responsibilities. Moreover, I take great pride in being associated with an institution that clearly values strong female leadership.

How would you like for students to describe you years from now?

As a knowledgeable and caring educator who inspired every young student and challenged them to excel and achieve beyond their greatest expectations, and who encouraged high standards of professionalism. I fondly refer to students of my small class teaching group #G as members of a group of a great achievers and hope this stays with them as they navigate their individual professional journeys.

What makes you look forward to the start of a new semester?

The excitement and anticipation of meeting a new group of my future great achievers.  

What’s something that not many people know about you or that your students would be surprised to learn about you?

That I am multilingual in five languages, and that my fluency in the Russian language and culture, often leads people to mistake me as being Russian.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Reading history and culture of different ethnicities, worldwide travel, and exposure to diverse communities and cultures. 

What would you be doing if you hadn’t gone into medical education?

Interestingly, despite being a successful surgical oncologist, my mother always saw that my knowledge acquisition would allow me to contribute maximally to the field of medicine as a professor, and she frequently encouraged me to consider teaching. Had fate not steered me into education, I would have continued clinical practice as a medical oncologist.