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Victoria To Award First Ever PhD To Samoan Nurse

Victoria University will award what is believed to be the first ever PhD to a Samoan nurse at their graduation ceremony on December 10, at the Michael Fowler Centre.

The PhD will be conferred to Ausaga Faasalele Tanuvasa, who will be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

Her thesis is entitled "The place of contraception and abortion in the lives of Samoan women" and is presented in both English and Samoan. A Samoanisi methodology was used to tell the stories of forty women living in Porirua and was conducted in respect to traditional Samoan protocol.

While the focus concerned contraception and abortion, the study also revealed discussions involving family life, Samoan values and traditional methods of birth control.

The study revealed the need for discussion and education for the whole family related to sexuality that could then be used to develop policies that recognise the Samoan's woman's way of including the family in the making of decisions on their health needs. The thesis also confronts the ways in which cultural values are misrepresented when health policies aren't developed with specific reference to the cultures in the community.

Tanuvasa, initially studied a Bachelor of Nursing at Victoria part-time while still working then decided to continue studying toward a Master of Arts in Nursing.

She received the Alice Bush Scholarship from the Family Planning Association and research and post-graduate awards from the Health Research Council which enabled her to study full-time.

Tanuvasa, says she is planning to continue to work with Pacific Island women and developing a Samoan nursing methodology drawing on aspects of both Western and Pacific cultures. "We need to consider the ideology from the users perspective - using Western ideas and research combined with looking at nursing from a perspective which acknowledges our own identity.

"We need to be telling Pacific Island women that we have our own ways of dealing with these issues".

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