Pacific Doctors Graduate with Masters of Surgery in Orthopedics


Two Pacific Island doctors have achieved Masters of Surgery (Orthopedics) from the National University of Samoa (NUS).

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Dr. Areta Samuelu from Samoa and Dr. Pita Sovanivalu from Fiji both received their Masters degrees at the March graduation ceremony.

Dr Areta Samuelu is the son of the late Dr Rev Fuamai Samuelu and Rosalina Alesana Samuelu who served as EFKS faifeau in Faleapuna, Vallejo California and Moataa.

The Masters of Surgery program is a result of collaboration between the National University of Samoa and the Pacific Islands Orthopedic Association (PIOA) which focuses on the promotion and development of modern orthopedic surgical care in the Islands of the South Pacific.

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In 2018, NUS signed an MOU with PIOA to deliver the Master of Surgery (Orthopedics) in partnership with the NUS School of Medicine.

To date, there have been seven graduates of the program (2 from Samoa, 3 from Solomon Islands and 2 from Fiji).

A further 24 students are currently enrolled in various stages of the program.

Dr Samuelu and Dr Sovanivalu are the latest members of PIOA to graduate from the Masters programme.

PIOA President and Members at NUS graduation. 📸 PIOA.

President of PIOA Dr. Shaun Mauiliu says the key to the training delivery approach is to ensure doctors are kept on island and do not have to leave the Pacific.

“The main benefit of this training over the last 10 years is that we have revolutionized how training is done in the Pacific by training doctors in their own country, so we don’t lose our workforce,” said Dr Mauiliu.

“This helps each of our trainees to identify the needs in their country, and advocate for how they can improve the delivery of orthopedic services.”

The PIOA President says the program runs live in 3-week blocks twice a year, with weekly sessions via Zoom and supervisory visits to trainees by visiting teams.

“A key part of the program is the continued support we offer our trainees in mentorship, and to help them with implants and equipment to deliver proper orthopedic care in the Pacific..”

“At the completion of all modules, trainees sit an exit exam modelled on the FRACS exit exam with examiners from Australia and New Zealand alongside our own Pacific graduates who are being trained as examiners,” adds Dr Mauiliu.

The PIOA was established in Honiara, Solomon Islands and now includes all Pacific Island countries.

Trainees in the Masters program come from nine Pacific Island countries including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Kiribati, Federated states of Micronesia, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.

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