This proud Filipino is a chemical engineer, physician and nurse. And despite her achievements in missionary work, she’s shy when being called one. For rather, she’s just contented to be addressed as Myrna.
Dr. Myrna Ricafuente Jover is a professional woman every Filipina would endeavor to emulate. At 50, she has established a name overseas as the first Filipino doctor in Australia to have been awarded as the General Practitioner of the Year 2012 of Illawarra and Shoalhaven, New South Wales. This award did not come overnight. Myrna struggled very hard to earn a reputation she rightfully deserves.
BEAUTY AND BRAIN
She finished elementary and high school at Aklan College in 1974 and 1978 respectively. She graduated with a degree in BS in Chemical Engineering in 1983 at the University of Sto. Tomas and in 1988, she finished her medicine at the Iloilo Doctor’s College. She did postgraduate internships at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Manila for one year. In 1992, she earned again a degree in BS in Nursing at the Saint Gabriel College.
She was crowned Miss Iloilo Doctor’s College in 1985. She won this beauty contest via unanimous decision.
ALL ON FIRST ATTEMPTS
All on first attempts, she passed the National Chemical Engineering Board Exam (1984), the National Medical Board Exam (1990) and the National Nursing Board Exam (1992) given by the Professional Regulation Commission in the Philippines.
In Australia, she was admitted as a Registered Nurse after passing the Australian Nursing Board Exam in 1995. In 1997, she completed the Nursing ICU Certificate at the Prince of Wales Hospital on a scholarship funded by the Figtree Private Hospital. In 1998, she was admitted as a Doctor of Medicine in Australia after passing one of the difficult Australian Medical Council Exam with the national passing rate of only 23 percent. In 2003, she passed the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Exam which affords her the opportunity to be admitted as Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
In the Philippines, she had served for some time her home province of Aklan before moving out of the country in search of greener pasture. She was a General Physician at the Saint Gabriel Hospital and lecturer in Algebra, Anatomy and Microbiology at the Saint Gabriel College from 1990 to 1992. For four years, she served as General Practitioners in Kalibo, Aklan and Boracay Island from 1990 to 1994.
When she moved to New South Wales, Australia in 1995, she first served as Registered Nurse in Figtree Private Hospital from 1995 to 1997. She was then employed as Medical Resident in the Wollongong Hospital, Shoalven Hospital and Shellharbour Hospital from 1999 to 2000. For the next five years, she worked with the Northern Polyclinic as General Practice Registrar, 2000-2003 and as General Practitioner, 2003-2005.
While many successful Filipino migrant workers abroad ventured into lucrative business, Myrna had chosen a more rewarding path. In 2005, she and her loving husband took over an established medical center – the Illawarra Medical Services, to cater to the health needs of the community.
Today she’s happy to note that IMS holds a special place in the hearts of the local Australian community as one of the innovative, family friendly medical practices in New South Wales. “We have grown from a 4 doctor to an 8 doctor practice. To help enhance the delivery of multidisciplinary care to our patients with chronic medical condition, we have extended to include the services of dietitian, exercise physiologist, podiatrist, physiotherapist, psychologist and pathology (blood test) provider in 2006,” she said.
The IMS was runner up and in fact, highly commended for General Practice for two consecutive years -2011 and 2012 in Illawarra and Shoalhaven, New South Wales, Australia.
DOCTOR ON THE MOVE
While into the general practice at the IWS since 2005, she did not stop from further enhancing her professional pursuits. She was a Clinical Lecturer at the University of New South Wales School of Medicine for the period 2005 to 2006 and General Practice Supervisor at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners from 2005 to 2007.
In 2012, she was posted as one of the clinical examiners of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Currently, she is also connected with the University of Wollongong Graduate School of Medicine as Senior Lecturer, since 2007.
She served as President of the West Illawarra Toastmaster, a post she holds at the Toastmaster’s International since 2012. An eloquent speaker and competent communicator, she was adjudged first place in the 2010 International Speech Contest, club level and second place in the Area 30 level in New South Wales.
She is the Founding President, University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association, Sydney and Illawarra, New South Wales, Australia for the term 2012-2013 and member of the Alliance of Philippine Community Organizations (APCO) and Club Filipino Illawara.
Myrna has been actively involved in the Filipino community as a member and supporter of Club Filipino Illawarra, Inc. for the last 14 years. She has supported many social, cultural, religious and fundraising activities for her chosen charities in Australia, the Philippines and India. She has also supported the club financially by being a donor in most of these activities.
She’s happily married to Dr. Neill Jover with four children- Myrnelle, Dana, Hannah and Robert. She was born in Kalibo to Lucio and Rosario Ricafuente.
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THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique. While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.