He says medicine was not something he had earlier aspired to, but after doing year 11 and 12 in Australia he was exposed to a number of occupation possibilities, “and medicine kept turning up for me so I pursued that”.
During his training he spent one and a half years on Manahiki as a medical officer, and was planning to return to surgery. However, there was no local anaesthetist at the time, so it seemed like an obvious field to move into.
While working in Rarotonga he will further his experience by doing attachments, first in New Zealand, while a locum will cover for him.
“I like the idea of the Hawkes Bay or Christchurch because some of my colleagues are already over there, so it would be good to join them.” He says attachments in other countries adds expertise to the job, “and keeps you refreshed”.
As the sole anaesthetist on the island, he says, “I can’t really afford to be sick and also I would have no-one to anesthetise me. But seriously, I have the great support of a technician and theatre staff. We make a really good small team”.
Dr Maea, says he loves the job because it is both clinical and practical. He also looks after the hospital’s intensive care unit. “I deal with the critically ill, trauma and emergency cases. I am on call for all emergencies and I find it both exciting and challenging,” and says he is continually looking for ways to improve the service.
“It’s good to be back on the Island and, apart from attachments overseas, I am looking forward to settling here.”
The Cook Islands Ministry of Health employs 17 doctors who work in different departments on the island. These doctors have come to Rarotonga from around the Pa-cific Islands and from Myanmar (Burma).
Director of hospital health services Yin Yin May, an obstetrician and gynaecologist by profession, has been promoted from her recent role as Chief Medical Officer. Orig-inally from Myanmar, she has been here for 29 years and calls Rarotonga home.
She says while Rarotonga Hospital has a lower budget and less equipment than similar hospitals in New Zealand, the service is still of a high quality.
“We do our best with what we have. Any complaints that do come our way are used as an opportunity for us to better our services even further.”
Rural GPs from New Zealand also come to work at the Rarotonga Hospital, for four weeks at a time, helping to keep the high level of service going while local doctors undertake further postgraduate degree training through Otago University. This extra training, along with a weekly continuing medical education programme, works toward a Doctors Competency assessment, essential for the doctors to continue to obtain a practicing license.