The National – By OGIA MIAMEL
IT was a dream come true for the East Sepik and New Ireland lass Florence Kerry, to be given the offer to study in Australia under the Sir Theophilus Foundation scholarship in 2014.
Kerry, a medical laboratory technician with Port Moresby General Hospital pathology unit, always had a passion of one day taking managerial role in a health facility.
The opportunity surfaced in 2014, when she saw the advertisement by the foundation to sponsor two students to do postgraduate master in health services management.
Her application was successful and she was given the chance to upgrade her qualification and to fulfil her dreams. She graduated from University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine and Health Science with a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Science in 2003.
During the same year, she began her residency at PMGH then worked in a private organisation before returning to PMGH.
She worked until she returned for studies and graduated with Bachelor’s degree in 2010.
In 2014, she applied for the Sir Theophilus Foundation scholarship and was accepted. “The scholarship was a blessing as it was something I wished for,” she said. “I didn’t know of this course Health Service Management. It’s still new in developing countries to have professional managers within the health system.
“My sponsor realised that it’s an area that needs developing. There are people around but specific skills and knowledge are needed to be developed so they came up with the scholarship. I am one of the very fortunate ones who have been selected which I am thankful of.
Kerry said her studies helped broaden her knowledge. With her clinical experience and what she has learnt, it will be useful in administrative positions. She hopes to contribute back to the country and one day work in a managerial position.
“I have learnt and seen that our country needs proper managers within the health service. We have issues with health service. We can’t fix everything but we need people who are equipped with the proper skills and knowledge because management is a different field of its own,” she said.
“Having background in health, I have a fair idea of how I can contribute, especially to service development, delivery and improvement of services and lifting the standards of service.”
She and fellow scholarship recipient Joy Manda McKay graduated from Griffith University last week and are back in the country to use their skills and knowledge to contribute to development.
They will be attached with the hospital’s CEO’s office under a two year job training programme before given permanent positions.
The foundation’s mission is to work with government health service providers and private sector partners to improve health services in PNG by being the bridge to fill the gap in human resource shortage.
They have provided scholarship for nursing students in tertiary institutions in the country. The two staff are the first to be sponsored.
PMGH chief executive officer Dr Umesh Gutpa said administrative and managerial skills were needed in any hospital and not just clinical skills.
He was grateful to the foundation for sponsoring the staff.
“They have gained valuable knowledge in professional modern day management skills and they will be working at PMGH to gain vital practical experience.”