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Auckland-based Health Care Assistant (HCA), Calvin Fuimaono Aiesi Naoia, encourages young Pacific youth to join the health workforce.

“They need a lot of muscle there,” he says. The 23-year old got his foot in the door after completing a Gateway programme while in high school and eventually joining the Auckland DHB’s Health Care Assistant Cadetship Programme. This was delivered in partnership with industry training organisation, Careerforce in a work-based learning environment, embedded with Pacific pedagogy.

Calvin feels there is a perception issue that deters young people from considering a career as an HCA. “They see it as a dirty job because it’s cleaning up after people. Yes, that is part of the job but that’s not the only thing there is to look at. You look at the relationship you build with the patients and their family. When you go to work, it feels like working with your family. When I go to work in the hospital, it’s my other home, my co-workers are my family.”

Auckland-based Health Care Assistant (HCA), Calvin Fuimaono Aiesi Naoia

He thinks there is a need for diversity and young male staff in particular are needed. “Sometimes you get male patients, who just prefer male staff. Not only can you help them with their bedside matters, but psychologically, you can often connect better as a male to male.” He encourages young people to consider joining the profession and be open to on-the-job training. “They not only get the experience, but also get to work and get paid. It’s a really good way to get your foot in the door.”

His eyes are set on becoming a nurse one day. He was already a semester into doing a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing when his father got diagnosed with cancer. “I had to drop out and stayed home to look after him. He passed away a few years ago of lung cancer. I tried to get back to study but my head wasn’t in it. So I’m glad the ADHB cadetship programme came along.” He has since re-enrolled to do nursing after getting inspiration from his colleagues.  He shares, “you see the nurses and you’re working alongside them and the feeling comes back to me. You’re helping make a difference in someone’s life who is in the process of getting better.”

The completion of the cadetship programme led to the achievement of a nationally recognised qualification, the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 3) Health Care Assistance. Calvin says the programme was really good and with the support of his employer, he managed to achieve balance as he worked, studied, and had time for church and family responsibilities.

Calvin admits to having bad shifts but holds on to the feeling of having good shifts. “A good shift is when I get to break out my dance moves to make patients laugh. A good shift is when everyone is happy, the day is running smoothly, and patients are getting better.”

“The best part actually is seeing the patients progress until they get discharged, either walking or going in a wheelchair, and family picking them up. That’s the best part.”

He encourages young people to bring their culture in and join this essential workforce. “I think there’s not enough Pacific Islander in there. There’s a lot of Pacific Island patients but not enough Pacific Island HCA’s and nurses. I think it’s really good for our youth to get in amongst it, especially through this ADHB/Careerforce programme.”