From technology to health: Auckland man starts nursing journey

February 8, 2022

A Samoan Aucklander charts a new life course — from IT to nursing.

Auckland nursing student Wayne Shum Kuen Ip has gone from telling people to switch their computer on and off again, to rebooting his own life – aged 44.

With a degree in information technology (IT) under his belt, Shum Kuen Ip returned to study to become a registered nurse through the two-year master of clinical practice at Massey University.

Shum Kuen Ip has Samoan parents, and ancestors from China.

His switch to nursing came after he graduated with his IT degree in 2018 – while he had a passion for his work, he realised he could help his culture more if he switched his studies to the health world.

‘I wanted to become a nurse because there was a shortage of male, Pacific nurses in the mental health area, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific communities were misled in relation to what was occurring locally and internationally.’

He lives in West Auckland with his wife and four children, and works in the Waiatarau Inpatient Mental Health Unit at Waitakere Hospital, as a health-care assistant.

“I currently work in the health-care environment and I saw a need for others like me, mature, Samoan, male, to join the nursing workforce to help others, especially the Pacific community both here in New Zealand and overseas in places like Samoa.”

Currently in his first year of the course, he said it was “never too late” to return to learning, and wanted to be an educational role model for his children.

Image of Massey student Wayne Shum Kuen Ip
Wayne Shum Kuen Ip

There were challenges facing Pacific people in succeeding in education, Shum Kuen Ip said.

“I think as a Samoan, there are so many barriers to furthering our education such as family expectations, parents who don’t always understand the importance of university education, teachers who expect less from us based on false stereotypes.”

He said eventually he wanted to take his knowledge and experience back to Samoa.

“I would love to set up a clinic where I can treat and teach the community options to adapt and develop better health outcomes and lifestyle choices. Rebuild and help my family, village and Samoa. I would also like to learn more about my Samoan culture. It’s time for me to give a little bit back.”

There was a Samoan proverb he heard recently that “struck a chord” with him, Shum Kuen Ip said.

“‘Lalaga le siosiomaga, mo se lumanai manuia’. It means: ‘Weave an environment for a better future’.”