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Anoushka’s story: Postgraduate Pacific Health graduate and Registered Nurse

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Registered Nurse Anoushka Alo began her nursing career over ten years ago. After working in Gynaecology for five years, Anoushka decided it was time to expand her learning and enrolled in the Postgraduate Certificate in Specialty Care, specialising in Pacific Health and Clinical Leadership at Whitireia. What Anoushka learned now helps her every day in her work with Pacific communities. 

Inspired to make a change 

Anoushka was inspired to get into healthcare after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Accompanying her to appointments, she saw what it was like to go through the system as a Pacific woman and felt there needed to be change.  

“Visiting the hospital so much with Mum, I saw all the needs and the barriers to healthcare for Pacific and vulnerable populations. I wanted to be a part of that change; I know that Pacific clients need to be supported in specific ways.” 

During her Bachelor of Nursing at Massey University, Anoushka completed a placement in the Gynaecology ward at Wellington Hospital, which lead to a full-time role after graduation. But with the demands of being a mum of three, and often unpredictable hours at the hospital, Anoushka started contemplating new paths in healthcare.  

Learning about Pacific Health 

While she was working, Anoushka started the Postgraduate Certificate in Specialty Care, specialising in Pacific Health and Clinical Leadership at Whitireia and WelTec.  

“I chose Whitireia because they were the only ones I knew of that had that programme. I’ve never known there to be a specific postgrad programme focussed on pacific health and clinical leadership. Both of those things spoke to my heart straight away.” 

Anoushka loved how comprehensive the course was, and how it dove into so many different Pacific cultures and their different health models.  

“I learnt so much about myself and other Pacific cultures. There are cultural differences as well as different health models, we’re not all the same. I think that was really important to recognise, because often people default to the larger islands like Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.” 

Finding connections through study 

Guest speakers were common in Anoushka’s classes, but it wasn’t just the speakers that offered an insight into different areas of work in Pacific health. Her fellow class members also came from many areas of the health industry, which allowed them to share their stories and connect. 

“It’s not always about what you know, it’s about getting out there and collaborating and networking. When you connect with people, you realise you’re not just in a little silo. There’s so much to learn from other people, and collectively, you can make a difference.”  

Anoushka image Web


Supporting Pacific Health in the Hutt Valley 

Anoushka now works for two organisations – Pacific Health Services Hutt Valley, and Net Pacific and Pakeha. At Pacific Health Services, Anoushka works with a team of primary outreach nurses and a nurse practitioner. 

“We all speak a variety of Pacific languages, and we’ll often do home visits. We talk to our patients in any language we can, incorporate our Pacific values, and what we know works for Pacific peoples. It makes such a difference in terms of engagement. Patients are more responsive, which helps everyone in the long run. It’s very fulfilling” 

At Net Pacific and Pakeha, Anoushka is the programme lead for the Pacifika Primary Mental Health and Addiction Service, where they deal with families who experience mild to moderate mental health concerns. 

“Being Samoan, it was always my goal to work with Pacific communities. It’s the community I know, it’s my background, it’s the values I live every day. And so, fusing how I live every day into my work was a no-brainer.”  

Next steps 

After being accepted into Victoria University’s Master’s programme, Anoushka is now well on her way to becoming a Nurse Practitioner, a role which will allow her to diagnose patients and prescribe medications. 

To anyone interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, Anoushka says to start with enrolling. “My advice is - just enrol, enrol in a health qualification because there are so many career options in the health sector and there is such a need for qualified health professionals who understand Pacific cultures and languages. It will be so rewarding to be able to help your communities and make the change that is needed. That is what I hope to do.” 

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