Dr. Stephen Kodovaru made Pacific history in Samoa last week.
The man from the Solomon Islands has become the first graduate of Pacific Islands Orthopaedic Association (P.I.O.A) programme.
His dream to become an Orthopaedic surgeon started four years ago.
“You know there wasn’t that many opportunities to train as an Orthopaedic surgeon in the region and it was really hard to get into the other countries to train,” Dr. Stephen said.
“So when the Pacific Island Orthopaedic Association, started their training programme which is a full year programme, I enrolled.
“And I got to be one of the first five candidates that were enrolled and along the way, the others got to do a couple more but I was the only one left at the end of the whole four years rotation.
“For me at that time, it was a privilege for me to be a part of the training program and at the same time on my journey, there’s a lot of pressure in all of it, you know having to be the first one.
Nothing worth having ever comes easy and Dr. Stephen lived by that while facing the challenges of this training programme.
“The content of the course was really challenging. I guess the toughness of the course was maintaining the standards that they told us, it was a struggle.
“And everyday, you always have that kind of thinking in your head where you ask yourself what if I don’t make it?
“You know there were a lot of expectations; for the first one has to perform and try to make the standards for other people to try and achieve.
“It can be a lot of weight on you because you are the one your other colleagues are aspiring towards.
“But once you’ve achieved that goal, you feel that you have done your best and that’s the best feeling in the world.
“I haven’t really looked far ahead but just practicing at home to just do the best of things properly at home.
“Trauma is a big problem in our region and the managing then is not really up to what other western countries are doing especially within the Pacific.
“It varies between countries but I really want to work at home in the Solomons and probably visit and help my colleagues out there in the region but primarily I want to stay home.
“The program does not exist in a vacuum; we can’t exist on our own so in this programme I’ve found that collaboration is the most important thing.
“I can’t function alone as an orthopaedic surgeon, I need the services of my friends and other surgeons.
“That’s the way to go; providing safe treatment for bones and joint problems. I can’t do it alone, it’s too big.
“I don’t get to get the praise or whatever but my patients comes first and that’s important.
Although Dr. Stephen is happy about being the first person to graduate from P.I.O.A., he knows he still has a long way to go.
The 39 year old is ready to go the extra mile to fulfill his dream for his wife and four children back home in the Solomon Islands.
“So the achievement today is one that I celebrate for today but now there’s another expectation which I have to live up to for the achievements that I have done and it’s a great responsibility and a there’s a famous saying that goes “You are just as good as your last performance” and that is going to be a general reminder in my head as long as I go. It’s going to be a lifelong practice. This is just a start.”
Director of Training for Pacific Island Orthopaedic Association Dr. Des Soares is proud of his first graduates’ achievement.
“From the very first time he started, he was a very quiet, very shy person and that nature has not changed but he has learned skills and knowledge and grown in confidence so that now he’s known his limits,” Dr. Des Soares said.
“He knows what he can do and I’ve been very impressed to see him developing that confidence to deal with more and more complicated procedures and carrying his patients in a way that makes them feel they are being valued.”