The following is an excerpt from an article published online by the Ministry for Pacific People.
“When Wellington-based vascular surgeon Tokilupe Taumoepeau (pictured) started out in medicine, her team kept a tally of how many times she was mistaken for the orderly or cleaner when she entered a ward in scrubs.
The first New Zealand female and first Tongan vascular surgeon has experienced her patients assuming she is a nurse, or that the male medical student or male junior doctor is in charge during the ward round on numerous occasions.
However, while it is disappointing these preconceptions exist, it has not curbed her motivation or drive to serve her patients to the best of her ability, Tokilupe says. “I have no doubt the challenges I have come up against have been faced by other women and other Pacific Islanders in medicine,” she says.
“Thankfully, these stereotypes and attitudes are becoming less common, but they do still occur, even now.
“Feeling secure in knowledge I am a good surgeon and am always putting my patients first has helped me bite my tongue at these times.”
Humility, along with smiling graciously and using humour definitely helps challenge people’s presumptuous attitudes about Pasifika, she adds.”
The full story is available online here courtesy of the Ministry for Pacific People