Pasifika Health Power Webinar inspires and challenges medical students

A webinar organised by the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) to encourage Pacific students in their future medical careers, focused on the benefits of embarking on research projects during and after their studies.

Over 100 students and fellow health professionals tuned in this week for the first Pasifika Health Power Webinar this year from their homes or attended special group viewings at various hospital locations across the country. They heard life experiences from PMA members who have undertaken successful research projects to further their careers.

Dr Bruce Su’a MBChB spoke about the impact of receiving the inaugural Pacific clinical research training fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. It funded a PhD after he had completed medical school to focus on a study dealing with complications surrounding bowel and colon surgery. Being a research fellow allowed him to travel the world and put him in the right path as a trainee surgeon.

“It never occurred to do more research. I just wanted to become a doctor. PhD life is self-driven learning.

The motivation for doing research maybe because you have a general interest in it, or you are doing it because you know it’s going to help you later on down the track.”

Dr Su’a says completing his PhD has given him a head start to his future career.

“I did this research because it helped me get into surgical training and it will help me get a job as a consultant.”

Other guest speakers included Tolotea Lanumata, who is the Manager of Pacific Research Investment at the Health Research Council of New Zealand and Dr Ineke Meredith, MBChB, FRACS, a breast surgeon.   Mrs Lanumata shared about what research funding was available for Pacific students and encouraged those in attendance to consider the various options accessible to them.  

Dr Meredith, who is also a proud mother, grew up in Samoa and New Zealand. She encouraged more Pacific women to embark on medical research, to persevere and focus on surgical training because there simply are not enough women surgeons in the medical industry.

“Of course, by this moment, we are in our late 20s and early 30s and we’re trying to live our lives. Raising a family is difficult because you are trying to balance surgery as well as doing research. There is a lack of female role models.”

The webinar was supported by the University of Auckland and Otago University. Dr Lupe Taumoepeau, MBChB, FRACS facilitated the live session. Watch this space for more upcoming Pasifika Health Power Webinars for our PMA membership.


Date: Saturday 17 April 2021