As announced in November by former Vice Chancellor Professor Athol Mackay, Oceania University of Medicine (OUM) has started 2024 with a new leadership team, continuing with OUM’s mission to improve the health needs of underserved communities in Oceania and beyond.

Headshot of Satu Viali male Dean for Samoa

Leading the University as Vice Chancellor will be Satupaitea (Satu) Viali, BHB, MBChB (Auck), MPH (UNSW), FRACP, FCSANZ, FESC, FACC, OUM Professor of Medicine, Consultant Physician, Cardiologist, and NUS Professor of Medicine. Having played a pivotal role during OUM’s formative years as its first Dean, Professor Satu was instrumental in developing the school’s initial basic science and clinical medicine curricula. He returned to OUM in May of last year as Interim Dean for Samoa, American Samoa, and the Asia Pacific. 

During his time away from OUM, Professor Satu became a noted cardiologist and internationally-regarded public health researcher, doing collaborative research and mentoring Master of Public Health students from Yale University in the US, Master of Medicine students from Fiji National University, and supervising PhD students from Otago University in New Zealand and at Yale. Most recently, the Government of Samoa’s Ministry of Health has announced his appointment to the Samoan Medical Council as the medical officer representing medical schools. (For more information about the Vice Chancellor, visit here.)

WELCOME DEAN TUITAMA

One of the new Vice Chancellor’s first official acts was to announce the appointment of George Usufono Leao Tuitama, MBBS, Post-Grad Diploma in Mental Health, as the University’s Dean for Samoa, American Samoa, and the Asia Pacific.

“No one is better prepared to guide this region’s students into rewarding medical careers as researchers and clinicians than Dr. George Tuitama,” says Vice Chancellor Satu Viali. “As an OUM alumnus who has studied and presented on mental health issues throughout the Asia Pacific, he knows the challenges they will face and how to help them overcome those challenges to make a major impact on their local medical communities.”

Dean Tuitama has spent the last decade as the only full-time practicing Psychiatrist in Samoa, as Registrar and Acting Head of the Mental Health Unit at TTM Hospital, and Head of Mental Health Clinical Services for the Samoan National Health System. He is a 2011 OUM graduate who before beginning his medical school journey earned his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

Since graduating from medical school, Dean Tuitama has become a regional mental health authority for Samoa and the Asia Pacific. He first earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health and Addiction from Auckland University of Technology, and is currently working on his Masters in Mental Health Practice from Auckland University of Technology/Auckland University of Medicine. He has also attended and facilitated workshops and conferences throughout the region sponsored by organizations such as the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the US Department of State. Topics have ranged from child and adolescent mental health to addiction and substance abuse disorders to depression and training for mental health workers. 

“In my new role as the Regional Dean looking after Samoa, American Samoa, and Asia Pacific, I am looking forward to assisting the OUM students in furthering their medical training and experience,” says Dean Tuitama. “It is always good to come back to where you started from, and to teach the younger doctors to become better and great doctors. The previous OUM student who has now become the teacher/doctor, will teach other students to become greater teachers and greater doctors. This is my passion.”

As the Dean for Samoa, American Samoa, and the Asia Pacific, Dr. Tuitama will provide leadership and guidance to students in the region and oversee clinical rotations at TTM Hospital and other regional teaching facilities, monitoring student progress during their clinical training. He will also work with hospitals on internship positions which may be open to OUM graduates.

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