Mobile Surgical Services Experience

Hemi Manaena - St John's College - Year 13 

Mobile Surgical Services Experience

Hemi Manaena, Year 13, St John's College


The week of the 9th to 13th of September was undoubtedly one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. My time with the MSS team opened up a whole raft of opportunities I would never had otherwise had, and I gained a new found level of deep respect and understanding for the medical profession.

Having left Hastings for Gisborne on Sunday afternoon, I was at that stage unaware of what I was getting myself into. I have had no previous medical training and had no knowledge of what the Mobile Surgical Unit (MSU) was. However, being met by Joe de Schot and Athalie Price from the MSS team really helped ease the nerves and build the excitement.

The week was truly inspiring. I encountered surgeons, anaesthetists, doctors and nurses who all had a deep passion for medicine and an extreme willingness to teach. Me being the naïve schoolboy from Hastings, I experienced what some would only dream of. I witnessed dental surgery in action in Te Puia, which served as a deeply harrowing reminder of the importance of dental care and hygiene for me and a great eye opener in terms of the disparities of people in these isolated parts of New Zealand.

I was honoured to be able to observe Mr Mike Shields in general surgery for the day at Wairoa, experiencing life in the operating theatre at such an intimate level, with the patients and the health professionals.

I spent some valuable time with the anaesthetists, who gave an insight into the life of anaesthetics, which was definitely a highlight of the week for me.

Coming away from this experience, I have witnessed first hand the complex and highly organised environment of the operating theatre in a unique atmosphere. There were several 5th and 6th year medical students also attending who hadn't yet experienced the operating theatre, and it was really humbling to be allowed that rare, extraordinary opportunity travelling on the road with the MSU.

My heartfelt thanks must be extended to the entire MSS team, especially Joe and Athalie, who encouraged me and supported me during the entire week and became like family. To the Incubator Programme run by the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, the great opportunities you continue to offer to students like myself are amazing, and I hope in the future that more willing and able young people join in and get involved with them. My school and my HOD of Science have been equally supportive; fuelling in me a passion for science and a profound respect for life – the hallmark of a great Catholic school.

In summary, the Mobile Surgical Services experience was undoubtedly the most educational, eye opening, life changing experience I have had in my life so far. I am sure there will be many more. But this unique experience on the road will stay with me for the rest of my life.


Thank you.


Hemi Manaena

St John's College

Year 13