Latest news Monday 24 February 2020|Four years ago, Nicholas Waaka was working as a young orderly at Middlemore Hospital, wheeling patients in his care along hospital corridors to their next destination.
Today, the 26-year-old is walking the same corridors, only this time, with a stethoscope around his neck as he embarks on putting theory into practice as a fourth-year medical intern training to be a doctor.
"It's crazy to think that when I started as an orderly in 2012 and fell in love with the job, that it would lead me back here now. I loved working with people from all walks of life and learned a lot about relationships and the importance of communication. You discover many life skills, and I realised that helping others through their suffering was a privilege" says Nick, who has tribal affiliations to Nga Puhi, Ngai Takoto, Tainui and Te Arawa with a mix of Chinese, Croatian and English.
Nick initially thought about pursuing the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing while working in non-clinical services. The kindness, patience and care extended by health professionals when his grandfather was receiving treatment in hospital, further reinforced his desire to get into healthcare. Nick also credits a conversation he had with his late Koro, Ronald Wong-Keung, in giving him the push towards a career in Health.
"My grandfather passed away in 2015, a year before I got into Medical School. I remember to this day, him telling me that he didn't want me to work to pay the bills. I spoke to friends and colleagues and as a result, signed up for a foundation course at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
“One lecturer suggested I try for the University of Auckland's Maori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) but sadly, I was not accepted into their Hikitia Te Ora Programme."
Being told his academic history was not strong enough to enter University at that time, did not deter Nick from his goal. The refusal made him even more determined to prove them wrong. Nick applied for the Tertiary Foundation Course offered by the University of Auckland and gained entrance into the Bachelor of Health Science (Clinical Pathway).
"I applied again to MAPAS and was accepted this time. It was such a good feeling after having failed the first time. I appreciated the wero (challenge) that they laid before me, and without their encouragement, I wouldn't be here today. I learnt not to take anything for granted, and that hard work pays off."
While Nick is taking life as an intern in his stride, he is grateful to his family and friends for the support they provide in his journey. He also appreciates the part the hospital played all those years ago in taking him on as an orderly.
"My history has given me life skills and experience to appreciate what I have now. Failures, achievements, commitment and guidance have helped me in making the crucial decisions to get me here. I'm a firm believer that if you put in the effort, you can do whatever you set your mind to."
Nick aims at empowering the health of his people in the future. He is committed to developing his skills and knowledge and views overseas experiences as a vital component to complement his learning.
In the meantime, Nick's journey continues, and with endurance, he believes that success is well within reach.
"I was born and bred in South Auckland, Papatoetoe is my hometown, and I'm proud to represent this community. I’d like to think that I will return to where I’m from and look after those in my care. Hopefully, this is the future that my grandfather wanted for me."