Scholarships to grow the Pasifika health sector

 13 May 2020

Six medical scholarships offered to thirteen recipients, with a combined value of $90,000, are providing a head start to Pasifika students pursuing a career in the health sector.

It’s the third year the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) has offered the scholarships, which supports undergraduate and postgraduate studies, placements in the Pacific islands and students from Otahuhu College’s Science Technology English and Maths(STEM) programme, an initiative supported by the association which prepares Pacific high school students for a career in health science.

PMA CEO, Debbie Sorensen, says the scholarships ensures more Pacific students are supported in careers that will benefit the Pacific community.

“Our group has been supporting Pacific clinicians for over 20 years, we recognise their value to the health sector and Pacific communities continue to benefit from their expertise. This is evident with the current success of the Pacific community response as the highest ethnic group tested for COVID 19 but with the lowest cases in the country.”

“The aim of the education fund is to support aspiring young doctors and nurses to complete their studies and to enable a senior leader to expand their knowledge and experience. There’s a job for everyone in the health sector and we’d like to see more young Pacific people take up these opportunities.”

Debbie says for many of their past recipients the scholarships have helped take away some of the financial burden of full-time study.

“The scholarships help remove any hardships and barriers students might have in entering tertiary education. We know that the average income for Pacific people is $20, 000 per annum so if you come from a family where money is not readily available, then that’s tough.”

“We don’t see this as a handout but as a hand up. There are many willing hands around these people to support them to be the very best that they can be.”

She says past recipients have been inspirational, including single parents and individuals who have been the first in their families to go to university.

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Recipients will not only receive support for their studies but they will also have the opportunity to network and be mentored by senior Pacific health professionals and members of the Pasifika Medical Association.

“They will get an appreciation of the broadness of working in the health sector and experience firsthand what a health professional looks like.”

“It’s much more than providing people with a piece of paper and a cheque but more around engaging them with the full scope of the medical profession and bringing them into the Pacific health family. ”

Last year when Debbie was on stage to present the 2019 scholarships, she admits to being teary eyed.

“Seeing the students accept their awards so graciously and with humility makes me feel hopeful for the future of Pacific health. We have amazing talent amongst our young people. We will only become bigger and better as a group serving our Pasifika community.”

Opening date for all scholarships is Monday 25 May 2020. More information on criteria and eligibility will be released in the coming days.

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Date: Wednesday 23 May 2020