A Surgical Registrar’s Journey

Salesi Akau’olaBeing raised by a Medical Doctor, Salesi Akau’ola was keen to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I’ve always admired doctors, particularly surgeons. My aim was, and still is, to become a really good surgeon in the future,” he said.

Akau’ola grew up in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. He attended primary and secondary schools there before moving to Fiji to pursue further studies at the then Fiji School of Medicine (FSM), now College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences in 2007. He chose to study at FSM because it was closer to home and had an excellent reputation.

“I chose to study at FSM because of the outstanding reputation of its graduates, the closeness to home (Tonga) and the recognition of the graduates by worldwide standards,” he said.

He enjoyed his time at FSM and it played a huge role in his life.

“My time in FSM played a huge part in my life. Not only did I meet my wife, Davina, there but I also made good friends who are friends for life. I got married and became a father before I graduated. Juggling family life and studies was challenging but it was all worth it. The experiences that I have will last forever and is something that I will cherish forever,” he said. 

Akau’ola also took part in extracurricular activities as a student.

“I was part of the FSM rugby team throughout my six years of studies. I was also a member of the Tongan Medical Students Association,” he added.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in 2012 from the Fiji National University (FNU).

He says that FNU has helped him in his career by providing him with the knowledge and experience needed to be a good doctor as well as a good person and to be better prepared for life in general.

After graduating, he moved back to Tonga where he carried out the internship programme for a year. Following this, there was an island rotation and he was sent to Vavau Island where he served for two years. He then served at the main hospital in Tonga doing an attachment in surgery before coming back to Fiji for postgraduate studies.

In Fiji, Akau’ola works at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH) as a Surgical Registrar while studying part-time at FNU. He is also carrying out a research project entitled, ‘Analysis of Emergency Surgery in Tonga’.

Speaking about his work, Akao’ola says, “the work is hard but my colleagues are great and I love everything about it.”

His wife, Davina, is originally from Samoa. They have two children: a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. He credits his success to his father.

“My father has always inspired me. He is a doctor and is the best one that I will ever know,” he said.

His advice to current and future students of FNU is to enjoy their time in FNU.

“Live and enjoy your time in FNU. Study hard and party hard and cherish your friends as they will be your future colleagues,” he said.

 “Be humble and open to learning, work hard and do other things apart from medicine in your free time,” he said.

His aim for the next five years is to be a good surgeon.