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Cook Islands doctor upskills with Otago diploma

Friday 10 December 2021 1:46pm

Dr Nini Wynn image
Dr Nini Wynn and her husband Myo Min celebrating in Rarotonga.

A doctor who grew up in Myanmar and now practises in the Cook Islands has become just the second Pacific Islands based clinician to complete a University of Otago postgraduate diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Practice (PGDipRPHP).

Dr Nini Wynn’s qualification was achieved largely through distance learning, although she was able to attend her final residential workshop in Christchurch in June despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Wynn will graduate in absentia on 11 December.

“My experience at Otago, has broadened my knowledge and improved my clinical decision making in my everyday practice. I have also gained a valuable professional and collegial network in New Zealand that I continue to draw on,” Dr Wynn says.

She grew up in Myanmar, completing her medical degree at the University of Yangon, before moving to the Cook Islands in 2004 with her husband Myo Min and their three young daughters.

Dr Wynn began her work with Te Marae Ora (Cook Islands Ministry of Health) as a general medical practitioner. Her first work placements were in the outer islands as the sole doctor, first in the northern group island of Manihiki, then in the southern group on Mangaia where the family spent four years. She returned to Rarotonga in 2009, continuing her work for the MoH in the General Outpatient Department.

Dr Wynn began her Otago studies in 2014 as one component of the Cook Islands General Practice training programme, a Cook Islands initiative in partnership with the University of Otago and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. This required completion of a Postgraduate Certificate in Rural and Provincial Hospital Practice (PGCertRPHP) which she achieved in 2016.

Dr Wynn then continued her studies, completing four further papers alongside full time clinical work. She now works as the lead practitioner of the busy Rarotonga Medical Centre in Avarua. Her determination and commitment has paid off with her completion this year of the Diploma.

“I would like to thank my husband, Myo, and my colleagues at Rarotonga hospital for their support; the Cook Islands Ministry of Health; the University of Otago Rural Postgraduate Programme Faculty and the RNZCGP. Particular thanks also to former Cook Islands Secretary of Health Mrs Elizabeth Iro, Dr Kati Blattner and Dr Kiki Maoate.”