Dr. Arby Nahapetian, 39
Vice president of medical affairs and quality Glendale (Calif.) Adventist Medical Center
Dr. Arby Nahapetian took a circuitous route into healthcare and quality management.
He began his studies as an economics major at UCLA, graduating in 1995. While his initial interest was in macroeconomics, he found himself drawn to public health because of one class—virology and vaccine development. From there, Nahapetian pursued a master’s in public health at Yale, focusing on epidemiology.
That prompted him to seek an internship with the World Health Organization, where he worked with Dr. David Heymann of the U.K., a pioneer in studies of treatments for Ebola.
At the WHO, Nahapetian focused on emerging infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, and in particular meningococcal meningitis. That experience pushed him deeper into healthcare. Nahapetian recalls Heymann telling him, “Arby, if you want to take this thing seriously, you have to go get a medical degree.”
“That was the impetus,” he said. Nahapetian chose cardiology/electrophysiology because he felt it was a field rich with data, where could be involved in evidence-driven outcomes and research.
Seven years into his career, however, he wanted to return to do more work on his original passions—population health and public health. That led him to Glendale Adventist, where he became vice president of medical affairs and quality in August 2012.
Kevin Roberts, CEO at Glendale Adventist, said his original conception of the job changed as a result of hiring Nahapetian. Previously, the role did not include a quality-management component, but Roberts felt that Nahapetian, given his background, would be a good fit for the extra duties. Roberts credits Nahapetian’s efforts with a number of quality improvements, including reducing the sepsis mortality rate at the 515-bed hospital, from a high of 25% to 13.8% now.
Roberts believes the improvements come from Nahapetian’s ability to interact with physicians, nurses and other clinicians, though Nahapetian attributes the hospital’s success to diligence throughout the organization.
Quality, he said, needs to “remain on everyone’s priority list. It’s not a one-off project you do for a year.”
FIRST JOB: Cashier at a toy store. A DEEP INTEREST: Likes to go “shark diving”— scuba diving to see sharks. Includes trips to French Polynesia and the Caribbean; hopes to visit South Africa soon. MULTILINGUAL: Besides English, he’s fluent in Spanish, French and Armenian, and “struggles” in German.