Medical route to a fulfilling career
Uputaua Suniula never completed high school and had two children by the time she was 17.
Yet she is now working towards a post- graduate certificate of nursing and aiming to gain a masters qualification specialising in primary health care.
She said becoming a nurse has been a life-changing decision for her.
Suniula battles not only to help patients, but also to prevent health problems from developing in the first place.
‘‘One of the problems we face is that teenagers and children don’t come in to see a doctor till they’re really sick,’’ she said.
‘‘What could’ve been addressed in the clinic, instead becomes complex, at which point they become an inpatient in the hospital.’’
Suniula has worked on the frontline of healthcare at Waitangirua and Porirua’s Community Health Service, two of the most challenging areas within the Capital & Coast District Health Board region.
She said she has found the experience empowering.
‘‘The positive impact I can make within the community has been mind-blowing, especially working as the first point of contact for people in need.
‘‘ My focus is to work with Porirua’s young population to help develop prevention strategies. These can stop acute presentations of preventable things like asthma and skin infections, and reduce the strain on hospital services.’’
One campaign she works closely on is the rheumatic fever prevention programme in Porirua.
As Suniula explained, a sore throat is an early indicator of the disease, which can cause a lifetime of heart issues.
‘‘ It’s all about treating the patient early.’’
Suniula was recently recognised with the Margaret Faulkner graduate award for her commitment to compassionate care and best practice principles.