Samoan-born and raised Patrick Soon, of Chinese and Samoan descent, is a senior dental assistant from the Auckland based innovative health organisation, The Fono. Based at The Fono’s Wyndham Street Dental Clinic, Patrick loves seeing patients smile once they’ve been treated.
Often mistaken for being solely Asian, despite being both Samoan and Chinese, Patrick likes to make conversation with people in his native Samoan tongue as an ice-breaker for nervous Samoan-speaking patients.
The 29-year-old father of three is a trained dentist who graduated from the Fiji School of Medicine and practiced in Moto’otua Hospital Samoa (where he and two other Fono dentists recently undertook some relief work), before immigrating to New Zealand.
Born and raised in the village of Vailoa, Faleata, Patrick and his partner moved to New Zealand for a better life for their children.
“It’s good for them health-wise and the general medical care here is good,” says Patrick, especially following the birth of their second child, son Liam, who was born with a chromosome abnormality.
“That’s the reason why we moved over. Originally, we were supposed to go back, but we had our second baby and that happened so my family stayed here while I went home, sorted out our stuff and came back.”
He started as a receptionist/dental assistant at The Fono and was promoted to senior dental assistant in 2016, in which he oversees the work the team does.
“This includes helping set up the surgery, readying it for patients, cleaning and sterilising the instruments, and ensuring that the surgery runs smoothly throughout the day.”
Patrick says it’s his duty to have everything ready for the dentists, and to make the lives of his colleagues and his patients, especially, easier.
One thing that’s remained constant from his career in both countries is his passion for seeing people leave the clinic much happier than when they arrive.
“The appreciation you get from the people you treat is the motivation to keep doing it,” he says.
“Being a dental assistant, I can help to provide a great service for our patients by supporting the dentist, making sure the equipment and surgery is maintained to the highest standard, and most importantly, by ensuring our patients are as comfortable and relaxed as possible.”
It’s important for Patrick to build a rapport with patients, but it’s even more special for him when he gets to help Samoan patients who cannot speak much English.
“I always try to engage with people who are coming in. If they look like they are an islander or Samoan, I talk to them in my own language,” he says.
“I let them know that if they come to The Fono, and they don’t understand English well, they’ll still know that there’s someone here that they can talk to.
“I get mimika (excited); it’s good, I’m proud to be Samoan.”
The Fono provides affordable services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health promotion, social services, education and Whanau Ora. They deliver a combination of these services across five locations. With combined experience of five separate clinics stretching over 80 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, safe, vibrant and informed communities.
Click here to view The Fono’s website