Top surgeon encourages Pacific medical students to explore their career options

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Renowned Samoan breast surgeon and Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member, Dr Ineke Meredith MBChb FRACS, will be speaking at a webinar next week to inspire future Pacific doctors about their career pathways. The main advice she wishes to give the young medical students is to be confident in their ability and to put themselves forward when the opportunity presents itself.

“We come from a very different background to non-Pacific students, where we are taught not to speak out and we let our elders speak before us,” Dr Meredith explains. “When you are at medical school, you’re amongst thousands of other students who are taught to speak up and to fight for their space in the world.   That’s why it’s really important to have self-belief and push beyond that cultural barrier.”

Dr Meredith will be one of the guest speakers at the upcoming Pasifika Health Power Webinar, presented by the PMA and supported by the University of Otago and the University of Auckland.

She will share with PMA members about her journey to becoming a surgeon and the steps she took to choose her field of specialisation. Other guest speakers include Dr Bruce Su’a MBChb and Pacific Research Fellow Tolotea Lanumata.

Dr Meredith was born in Auckland and moved to Samoa with her family when she was nine. She initially planned to become a pilot but was granted a full scholarship to the University of Otago to study medicine and that opportunity forced a positive career change.

“As a doctor, you have the ability to impact someone’s life and make a huge difference,” she says.

Dr Meredith has been making a difference since she finished her medical degree and trained as a surgeon in the field of Oncoplastic Breast Surgery in Auckland, Australia and France. She currently works at Wellington Hospital as a breast and general surgeon.

Her husband, Dr Krishna Clough, is one of the world’s top reconstructive breast surgeons in Paris and Dr Meredith continues to travel to France frequently to see him and maintain and develop her surgical skills.

She advises future medical professions not to rush and choose what medical field they wish to specialise in.

“People can sometimes be preoccupied by knowing their path from the very start. But there is no urgency to decide. Sometimes we are influenced by people around us but we often meet someone from a specialty that can be inspirational.”

Dr Meredith hopes to see more Pacific students entering the medical profession.

“We need Pacific in our industry to achieve representation. It’s important for us in order to connect to our communities and have sovereignty of our own health, research and data so we can progress here and in the Pacific nations.”

The Pasifika Health Power Webinar Series starts next week on Wednesday 14 April from 5pm-6pm and the guest speakers will present from their various locations with zoom facilities allowing many others to tune in from around the country and overseas.

To register please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/pacifichealthpowerwebinar.

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Date: Wednesday 07 April 2021