PMA Board member Abel Smith is one of the three graduates recently capped at the inaugural Master of Professional Practice (Leadership) by Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
Mr Smith, Fijian, worked as a clinician, manager and educator in the nursing and health care sector in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.
He entered the profession in the late 1980s when he graduated from the Fiji School of Nursing and subsequently worked at Hillcrest Hospital South Australia in 1989.
Mr Smith served in the health sector at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, Vunisea Hospital, Kadavu Subdivision and St Giles Hospital in Fiji before moving to New Zealand 20 years ago. He later obtained his Bachelor of Nursing degree at UNITEC in Auckland.
Last year, Mr Smith was honoured for his services to nursing and midwifery at the NZ Nurses Organisation awards ceremony.
This year he is one of the three students from a class of 15 to graduate with a Master of Professional Practice (Leadership), a newly introduced qualification by Whitireia Community Polytechnic and WelTec, supported by Pacific Perspectives and funded by the Ministry of Health under the Aniva programme.
Dr Suitafa Debbie Ryan, Director of Pacific Perspectives and PMA member says nurses make up 78% of the Pacific regulated health workforce but few have taken on further studies or advanced training.
“The Aniva programme was established as a pathway to advance nursing education to respond to the increased demand for achievement of qualifications by Pacific nurses. The core of the programme is the Masters pathway.”
“This pathway involves a three-year, part-time, Masters level qualification designed specifically to motivate and encourage progression, with an in depth understanding of health issues affecting Pacific people.”
Mr Smith’s success is being acknowledged by the PMA Board along with the other two recipients of the Masters award; Kevin Gounder (Fijian) and Manogi Eiao (Niuean).
Mr Smith is passionate about enhancing and strengthening the Pacific Nursing and Health workforce in New Zealand and the Pacific region and is currently involved in a joint role across two District Health Boards in the Auckland Region as the Clinical Nurse Director – Pacific Health and Workforce at Auckland and Waitemata District Health Board.
Aside from his professional duties, Mr Smith is the current President of the Fiji Nurses Association NZ, Treasurer of the Pacific Nurses Section NZNO, Treasurer of the Pacific Mental Health Professionals Organisation and Associate Trustee of the Friends of Fiji Health. He also contracts to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority as a Programme monitor for the Bachelor of Nursing Pacific programme at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
He is one of the ten Executive Board Members for the Pasifika Medical Association.
Mr Smith will continue to lead the way for Pacific nurses.